Rockerilla June 80 Translation

I think that this small episode says something about how incredible a rock and roll band The Clash are.

I arrived as expected for an exclusive interview, at their hotel in Bologna at about midday on the Sunday on which we had organised (myself as a consultant of  the town council of Bologna) their concert in Piazza Maggiore, seizing the opportunity given to them with their brief Italian tour, to finish with an unforgettable free concert in the review “Ritmicità” set up by the community, by Harpo’s Bazaar and by other musical co-operatives.

Outside the hotel there is a black mini bus, covered in dust and wrecked, with an English number plate. Someone has written with their finger “Grenoble Punks” in the dust. A glance at the inside where in complete disorder there are tins of beer and magazines. On the dashboard there is a tape, “L. A. Women” of the Doors. It makes me laugh, to me it seems a comical and beautiful situation, that a great band like The  Clash touring Europe with a mini coach that looks as if it has come out of a film by Wim Wenders or Sam Peckinpah. But in the hotel I get to know that it belongs to some  of The Clash’s technicians, while John Picard of CBS gloomily throws his arms open wide and declares that he has absolutely no idea  where Strummer’s group is.

But after a while, the truth comes out, and it gives the English group an even more beautiful, more rebellious and absolutely irregular image.

In fact at 2.00 o’clock in the afternoon they phone from Nice with assurances that they’re hurrying up to get there. But how? Not by plane, or in a coach, but each with their own car, arranging to meet at the site of the next concert, in this case from Nice to Bologna, with the risk of them getting lost.

In fact that is what happened, and this explains why The Clash give life every evening on stages all round the world to one of the most intense and overwhelming performances in rock and roll, it’s not a coincidence. But which becomes a necessity as soon as the four meet backstage behind the scenes, drink something quickly and then jump to get changed and and get their unstoppable live act going.  “They don’t ever go to bed before six in the morning after concert” says John Picard and they don’t get up in the afternoon before two o’clock.

Being on tour with them is incredibly stressful; for them the word “schedule” hasn’t got the least bit of meaning. Meanwhile the square is filling up, and groups of youngsters from all over Italy continue to arrive, until at the end there will be  thirty-thousand in spite of the changing of the schedule.

(Everything has been anticipated by a day because an hour before The Clash, Pietro Longo of the PSDI, is double booked for a meeting causing considerable problems and absolutely not consenting to changing date and place)

There’s a leaflet of the RAF Punk;’s going around, a group of young Bolognese punks, fans of Crass and declared enemies of the Damned and stale Clash.

They’re terribly late. In the meantime Cafe Caracas and Whirlwind start playing, but the wait gets longer and the impatience grows.

The first to arrive at about half past nine is Joe Strummer and after a while Mick Jones and Paul Simonon appear, but Topper Headon isn’t to be seen. News goes round that he is lost in Parma.

The wonderful reggae sent out by the speakers for two hours however, doesn’t keep anyone entertained anymore and the Clash decide to go on stage accompanied by Whirlwind’s drummer. There is a roar.

It’s twenty past ten on the 1st June 1960, as Paolo Zaccagnini wrote in the Messaggero, it’s a historic hour for rock, when one of the greatest loved rock and roll groups born from the punk revolution goes on stage in Piazza Maggiore.

The London “cellars” get into contact with the Bolognese ones, who give the cue and this is the signal.

The stage is affectionately taken by storm by the Kids, while the Centocelle of City Rockers from Rome keep away the hostile punks and the Clash begin an unforgettable concert.

Everything really takes off only when Topper Headon arrives a quarter of an hour later, with him shooting behind the drums and then the concert literally explodes.

Only a few cans launched against The Clash and all in only a bit of spitting.

It’s preferred to sing, dance and get excited to show affect towards one of the most beautiful bands in the history of rock..

Dressed in black, Joe Strummer is as tight and nervous as a bow and it’s a dramatic representation to which he gives life. He feels and lives rock’n’roll intensely, often singing with his eyes shut and making theatrical movements with his arms.

Mick Jones at the edge of the stage playing fantastic guitar chords one after another and often kneels down to speak to the kids below.

Paul Simonon, with his head completely shaved, red shirt and trousers with braces is a magnificent skin-head who makes the bass thunder apocalyptically while moving in his wobbly way of walking.

Whilst Topper Headon doesn’t miss out on anything and sustains everything behind the drums who shoots out blasts and burst again and again.

“Clash City Rockers” and the start is inevitable, an electric shock goes down your back, then it’s down to “Spanish bombs” and “Jail Guitar Doors”.

The Spanish bombs thunder in the “disco casino” of Strummer and echo through the bars of the prison cells, whilst Paul Simonon’s grasps the guitar and with a hard and warning voice tackles the difficult reggae of “The Guns of Brixton”, one of the most successful of the whole concert.

London isn’t burning yet, like many under the stage are calling.  

“London Calling” precedes “Jimmy Jazz” and a sparkling “Train in Vain”.

Noises of crashing with “Clampdown” while we pass from the third to the second album, and Mick Jones shouts out the rebellious howl of  “Stay Free” , then it’s “English Civil War” to echo.

“Una storia di Junior Murvin” says Joe Strummer in a deep voice, and it’s a shudder as it’s time for “Police and Thieves”. Hard and metallic reggae from which we get the hammering rock in “I’m so Bored with U.S.A.”, sung with full lungs.

Swords of light on the thousands of vibrating heads and hands and on the enormous orange banner at the back of the stage (a shade of “worker” ideals from Ford’s realism and Roosevelt’s thirties, designed by Tom Lowry of the “New Musical Express” and representing factory chimneys).

A few more songs then it’s the end, while Paul Simonon breaks his bass, Mick Jones takes off his guitar finishing in heat hitting violently his head and fainting and Joe Strummer jumping as if he is possessed between Topper Headon’s drums and the edges of the stage, by this time invaded by the kids in the first rows.

The encore is played straight away with the slow and hypnotic reggae of “Armagideon Time” followed straight after by the really violent riff of “Tommy Gun”.

There aren’t blasts of death or victory, but for the four knights of the apocalypse, it’s the climax of the unforgettable red hot tracks of the first album.

“Janie Jones” is the start of the last blitz, then London starts to burn with “London’s Burning” and a distressful  yell of “White Riot” comes from out of the flames.

It’s the end and nerves and lungs have to work hard to get back to a normal rhythm, and the blood runs more regular than throughout “I Fought The Law” fantastic at half way through the concert with Strummer  spitting  with hoarse voice anger and submission of “I fought the law, but in the end the law has won”, then falling on his knees.

Then the Clash disappear, before being surrounded by enthusiastic Kids or journalists looking for quick contacts and there after disappearing into the darkness.

The exclusive interview takes place in Strummer’s hotel room while the other band members come and go and Joe looks at “Rockerilla” back issues for a long time  then agreeing to a long chat for nearly two hours, the best part of which is published by me in “Lotta Continua” a few days later.

Joe, “I don’t know, it’s strange to be here in Bologna, I’ve been waiting so long for this moment and now I’m dumbfounded. I went out last night and this afternoon, but I would like to stay here for longer. Bologna is so much different to London. There’s an old Rolling Stone’s song called “Street Fighting Man” which says “What else can a poor boy do in  sleepy London apart from playing in a Rock’n’roll  band”?

I think he’s being honest. It’s true, there aren’t people fighting in the streets. Do you get what I’m saying? There are Punks, Skin-heads, Mods, Teds, Rasta and Rockabilly Rebels who often fight between each other. But they don’t get together to fight Margaret Thatcher, there is no organisation. I myself keep away from being organised, I can’t stand being organised, I’m a rebel, my own actual life is a testimony to rebellion

I lived for years in squalid rooms in frightening districts, without work or money, scraping together two pounds a week playing here or there in the metropolitan underground. In this way I discovered  Rock’n’roll, finding myself  playing together with others like me in  small garages. We are a garage-band and we come from garage-land. I’m not from a poor family, but I went to an awful school, very severe and Victorian where brutality was the rule. There I had to learn to be a rebel. Don’t work in a factory, because it will kill you. Burning my life living it intensely. This is what being a rebel is for me and that’s what I still do, well or not, maybe uselessly. You see, I’m not a man of great intelligence, I have never understood Marx, even though I have tried to read it many times, but I’ve always had to give up because each time confused me even more and I’d be happy if someone could explain it to me instead. So I lead my rebellion in this way, these are my politics. It’s so every day, every second of my life. What we try to do through music is to discover the truth.. The truth about life. It can be that you go to school, grow-up, find a job, get married, grow old and then…it just can’t be like that. Looking for a job, queuing up outside the unemployment office as I did for years, hanging around the streets of London without knowing what to do and in the evening getting drunk and fighting.

It can’t be like that. I have got my life to live, I prefer to burn . I mean… my ideas are confused, they buzz in my head like bees. They always hurt me” He stops talking, presses his temples, closes his eyes, continuing to smoke one cigarette after another.

Then he lifts his head up and continues. “What I want to say is that everything exists and if you want  you can take it if you really want to In anyway and whatever it costs”.

I ask him to talk about the story of their attitude towards terrorists and armed groups, thinking about the famous photo of him wearing a RAF and Red Brigade  T-shirt at a concert in Hyde Park, a photo that bewildered many given the bloody mark that terrorism has left on the Italian society in these years. He listened and nodded, then he interrupted me and said: “I can explain the reason for this. I saw what the BR were doing and understood straightaway that I would never have been able to do it. I don’t want to kill and I don’t wont to be killed. And I said to myself: you will never do that, Joe, your duty is to unite young people, and do it through Rock’n’Roll”.

Understand? I could never be on their side, but I was fascinated, Their way of seizing a fire arm and make people listen to them fascinated and frightened me. Nobody in England has the courage to do it, and maybe they could have been an example to them. As regards to the T-shirt, I wore it exclusively to be a provocation. We weren’t at Hyde Park but Victoria Park, and we were playing for “Rock against Racism”, and even if it was a right thing, to which we took part in for a while, I understood that something wasn’t right, political jealousies and exploitations by EMI, who had a contract with the Tom Robinson Band and printed all those T-shirts and badges with the star symbol of RAR”.

He stops, draws heavily on his cigarette and then imitating Johnny Rotten’s voice pronounces “E.M.I.”.

He carries on. “So I wanted to provoke them and decided to wear that T-shirt with a similar star, but a lot different. They weren’t very happy and were offended, after that we broke-up with them. You see, I’m not a politician, but I know where there are lies and I want the truth. The life we are living helps me, because we travel a lot and I see things from different points of view. The problem of terrorism that in London I saw in one way could have been attractive, but now I see that London is only …” He stops, looks around as if he wants an example, then holds his thumb and index  finger and carries on: “…a small dot in the world. What to me seemed clear and right isn’t anymore. Before I thought that the BR or the RAF and the IRA, represented a way, even if I didn’t agree, to revolt .But today I don’t believe in this anymore, because it only spreads blood. I know that in Italy killing goes on and that a few days age they killed a communist reporter (obviously Strummer had heard about Walter Tobagi, left-winger) so this is a really bad way of living. Now I understand, before I didn’t”. He stopped again, deeply drawing on his joint, by now the third. He got up to drink, small and dressed in black, looking like Montgomery Clift, his cinema hero, to whom he dedicated “The Right Profile”. I ask him if he finds it wrong that I found comparisons between a scene described in “London’s Burning” and one in “Arancia Meccanica [Clockwork Orange]”, one of my favourite films.

It’s a dark and violent place. Referring to the scene you mean, it’s the one that you can see going to Mick Jones’s flat and one evening we realised how much it is like the one from “Clockwork Orange”, so we put it in the words of the song”.

Paul Simonon comes in, in his wobbling way, looks through “Rockerilla” and asks what time “this fuckin’ mister Longo” was speaking. He would like to say something to him about having to anticipate the concert, and having created a lot of problems, especially for the youngsters who couldn’t have found out about the change in the program and would arrive the evening after only to find a nasty surprise. I ask if the Brixton rooftops really are full of rifles and he answers: “Oh, not really, that song is serves as an admonishment because we want to keep certain people away from Brixton. In fact, a lot have declared not to”.

Topper Headon has vanished and Mick Jones arrives accompanied by Elettrolux, who then carries on. “She is a real punk-girl, very intelligent and definite. I met her in the street not long ago”.

I ask Joe Strummer what he thinks of “1984” by George Orwell. “For us - he says - it’s already a sad reality. We haven’t got Big Brother, but we have got Big Sister, that is Margaret Thatcher. All the newspapers are with her. That’s why I also say “What else  can a poor youngster do in sleeping London apart from playing in a rock’n’roll band?” Let this be quite clear. Last night we played this strange, quiet Bologna, so different to London and it was great. We also met some punks who told us they preferred Crass. I tried to understand why, we have spoken.

They said we were bastards to play for communists. I have never heard Crass, but I’ve reading their interviews and I’ve got nothing against them, they seem to be like us at the beginning, but in a few years they will change certain points of view.

What happened last night was fantastic, together with another concert in England some time ago, the biggest of our life.

In what I call “my city” it would be impossible, they would arrest us if we played at a concert with tens of thousands of youngsters organised by communists in a big London square. For this it’s been a great success. But be careful, when I say “What else can a poor boy do?” It’s not an alibi. Rock’n’roll gave me hope and it is a form of culture that gives strength and an identity to youngsters. I loved Elvis Presley very much, and I was disgusted when he died and certain punks in London went round saying “an old whore is dead, we’re not bothered about idols”. The same punks who then said, when Sid Vicious died, that Sid was a symbol and would never die, like I read on a wall last night in Bologna. Who wrote that is stupid. For me Elvis wasn’t a idol, he was a man and a rock’n’roller, who I loved, like Buddy Holly, a real artist, like the Rolling Stones, of “Not fade away”.

But Elvis was the greatest, him of “That’s alright mama” and other great  rock’n’roll songs and rockabilly.

As regarding Sid, well really is dead and it’s no good trying to bluff it’s not true. It’s a mythical way of acting, just like the damn ones from the “Sun” who, when he died stamped the whole first page saying “Sid Vicious is dead. The number 1 punk! See what happens?” That’s how idols are built, but with punk we don’t want anymore idols.

I’m not a hero, I’m on my own, and it took me a long time to realise this, I’m on my own…just a fuckin’ “somebody”.

First he stops, then lowers his head, holds up it again and looks at me.

I ask what he thinks about the famous line made by Neil Young about Elvis Presley and Johnny Rotten. He nods, smiles and asks if it’s OK if he doesn’t comment. “I with Johnny want to follow the motto “Live and let live”. I prefer not to speak”.

I insist. “Well, I think that Johnny Rotten can well be forgotten, and in his place there’s John Lydon, who I don’t understand much, but I know is intelligent and I think that he should allowed to get on, and that PIL will do good stuff, even if, I today don’t understand him”.

I ask if he remembers the title of James Dean’s first film “Sure it was “Rebel without a cause”. I’m not like that. I am a rebel, but I’ve got a reason, I know exactly what I want and I use my head, I don’t get pulled by the fashion, a thing which is very frequent in London and a source of vanity and if someone hits me I hit back twice as hard. As Ivan says “the harder they come, the harder they fall”. But how many of us are left? Sid is dead, with a needle stuck in a vein and there’s nothing glorious about that.  He was a great boy, and I have never recognised him in the way certain punks and newspapers mythologised him.

And the others? Johnny Rotten’s gone, Captain and Dave Vanian are in a blind dead-end. Maybe, only we’ve been able to hold on hard and so we carry on. I don’t know how long. I don’t care about the things that the press and our record company say.

“The only band that matters” is how they described us.

It’s all crap from our record company. In England, we don’t sell a lot, Margaret Thatcher’s press hate us, and only just recently have we started to do well in Scandinavia or in Holland. But in Germany of France who are we? We’re big in America, and we’ve sold so many records that it seems unbelievable. There are always loads of kids at our concerts and all know our songs like “I’m so bored with the U.S.A.”, which they wanted to censor but we played first every evening for months and months. But what counts, isn’t the fact that we sell lots of records but the fact that we can play the rock’n’roll we want and help people to wake up. I learnt this from Bo Diddley, with him we did an unforgettable tour last year. Using your head and not letting yourself get influenced by those who talk more. He really is a rock’n’roller, an authentic “rude boy”, even if he is fifty years old, not like many who do ska and rude boys.

I love reggae and ska and hate the necrophiliacs of ska. I learnt the same thing from Pete Townshend, who even come to play with us once. He’s the antithesis of the rock star Pete, a true artist who is very sensible about what kids do today, what he was fifteen years ago. I ask if they have ever played in Jamaica or if they would do. “It wouldn’t make sense, we would only be a snail band of whites going to an island pretending to play reggae in a place where they play it better then us anyway”

What is China, a recurring word in Clash’s songs? “It’s a fascinating, legendary place where we would soon like to go and play”

And is it true that your music is remembers  the first Rolling Stones and Who? “A lot of people say this, so there is some truth in it. We’ve  got nothing to do with the Rolling Stones of today, we’re really oppressived (he holds his head in his hands) and really lunatic”.

The journalist looks for an effective ending and asks where does the road for the Clash lead to. Joe smiles and refuses to give a rhetoric answer, even though without realising, he gives one even more significant about the type of band that The Clash are. “I don’t know, I only know that tomorrow we will be in Turin, and maybe, the day after tomorrow in Berlin. That’s all I can say, that’s all I want to know”.

He stops and then continues.

“I also know that Turin is one of the biggest working class cities in Europe, so our banner will have a precise meaning. Saying that, that is reality, a hard reality. Like our music is, from when we started playing years ago in the smallest punk localities in London or in front of the factories in the North of England.

Do you know the old blues song of Mississipi that goes “Sixteen tons I’ve carried today and sixteen tons I’ll carry tomorrow, but the day will come in which those sixteen tons…”? (He tightens his fists while he sings quietly and mimes breaking down a wall). We will go on like that until we still have the strength to run. “know yourself”  Socrates said and to me this has always seemed like a good motto. This is what really counts”.

Ezio - known as eVair on Satch’s

Rockerilla June 80 Translation

Subject: Traslation Rockerilla - part 1

A small story that I believe says something about that unbelievablerock'n'roll band, the Clash. I arrived as arranged, for an exclusive interview, at their hotel in Bologna towards midday of Sunday, the day which we had organized (me as simple advisor of the town hall in Bologna) their concert in Piazza Maggiore; catching the occasion offered of their brief Italian tour to close with an unforgettable free concert the show "Ritmicità" organized by the town hall, by the Harpo Bazaar and the other musical cooperatives. Outside of the hotel there is a black little bus, dirty and old, of English plates. Someone has written with a finger "Grenoble Punks" in the dust. A glance to the inside, where in complete disorder cans of beer and newspapers are. And on the dashboard a cassette "LA Woman" of the Doors. I feel like smiling, a funny and beautiful thing it seems me that a band as big as the Clash runs around Europe with a little bus that seems out of a film of Wenders or Peckinpah. But in the hotel I discover that it belongs to some technicians of the Clash, while desolate John Picard of CBS throws his arms wide and says that he has no idea where the group of Strummer and partners is. But after some time the truth surfaces and it gives an even more beautiful image of the English band, even more rebellious and absolutely crazy!.

By 2 am in fact they phone from Nice with assurances they are preparing to depart. How? Not in an airplane, not in a bus but each with his own car, giving themselves appointment to the place of the following concert, from Nice to Bologna in this case. With the risk that they get lost. And in fact this is what happens. And this explains the fact that the Clash every evening give life on the stages of half the world to one of the most intense and overwhelming representations of rock'n'roll. "Before six in the morning after a concert they don't go in bed, never” -says John Picard - “and before  two in the afternoon they never get up. To be with them on tour is deadly. For them the word "program " doesn't have the least meaning."

The Piazza meanwhile is filling up, and groups of young people arrive continuously from every part of Italy, so much so that there will be 30,000 at the end, despite the change of program (everything has been anticipated of one day because the place an hour before the Clash was booked for a meeting by Pietro Longo of the PSDI creating notable problems and absolutely not allowing to move date and place). A flier of the Red Army Faction Punks circulates, a gang of young Bologna punk lovers of the Crass and declared hostile to the Clash. And they accursedly delay. Meanwhile Cafés Caracas and Whirlwind play, but the waiting is getting more and more long and impatient. The first one to arrive, toward 9.30, is Joe Strummer and shortly after Mick Jones and Paul Simonon appear, but Topper Headon is not seen. News that he is lost in Parma . The stupendous reggae spread by the monitors after two hours of waiting doesn't appease anybody anymore, and the Clash decide to climb onto the stage accompanied by the drummer of Whirlwind. It is an explosion. It is 22.20 of first June 1980, as Paul Zaccagnini has written on the "Messaggero", a historical hour, when one of the greatest and beloved bands of rock'n'roll born of the punk revolution climb on the stage of Piazza Maggiore. From the garages of London they come into contact with those of Bologna. With decision the stage is assaulted by the Kids, while the CentoCelles City Rockers of Roma get further the hostile punks and it begins an unforgettable concert.

Even if it takes off really only when, a quarter of hour later, slingshot taut behind the drums comes Topper Headon. Few cans are thrown at the Clash, and also a few spit. You prefers to sing, to dance and to express the affection for one of the most beautiful groups of the history of rock. Joe Strummer, dressed in  black, is tense as an arc and it is a representation dramatic that to which gives life. Alive he it intensely feels the rock'n'roll, he often sings with closed eyes with arms that trace theatrical gestures. Mick Jones skips about to the edges of the stage inserting deadly riffs of guitar one behind the other and often bending himself to talk to the kids under the stage. Paul Simonon, completely hair-shaved, with red shirt and pants with suspenders, is a magnificent skin-head that  thunders his bass in an apocalyptic way moving with his limping walk. Not missing a beat and support to everything is TopperHeadon.

Clash City Rockers is the inevitable beginning, down from the back an electric shake goes, then it is Spanish Bombs and Jail Guitar Doors. They thunder the Spanish bombs in the disco casino of Strummer and they echo the grilles of the cells of the jails, while Paul Simonon grabs the guitar and with hard and admonitory voice it faces the sharp reggae of The Guns of Brixton, one of the highest points of the whole concert. London still is not burning as they ask a lot under the stage, but is calling. London calling precedes Jimmy Jazz and a sparkling Train in Vain. Noises of clashes with Clampdown while they pass from the third to the second album and Mick Jones shouts the rebellious cry of Stay Free to full voice, then it is English Civil War to boom. A history of Junior Marvin, tells Joe Strummer in low voice, and it is a shiver, because it is Police and Thieves. Hard and metallic reggae from which the hammering rock  of I'm so Bored with the USA goes out, sung with full bellows. Sabre of light on the thousand of heads and of oscillating hands and on the great banner that is on the back of the stage (a painting of industrial town, from realism Fordian and Roosveltian of 30 years ago,drawn by Tom Lowry of the New Musical Express and showing chimneys of factories).

Still some more songs and then it is the end, while Paul Simonon smashes his bass, Mick Jones untied the guitar, with it ending up  striking him violently on the head and him falling fainted. Joe Strummer jumps like a man possessed between the drums of Topper Headon and the edges of the stage, by now invaded by the kids of the first rows. The encore is immediate with the hypnotic and slow reggae of Armagideon Time, the violent riff of Tommy Gun follows without a break. Don't play trumpets of death or victory but for the 4 riders it is the time of the apocalypse, and the climax are the unforgettable red hot tracks of the first album. Janie Jones is the start of the last blitz, then London starts to burn with London's Burning and from the rebellious flames and suffering cry of White Riot it goes out.

It is the end, nerves and shouts they labor to start over the usual rhythm and the blood taking back the most regular rhythm then during I Fought The Law, huge to half concert with Strummer to spit with hoarse voice the anger and resignation of whom "has fought the law, but in the end the law has won", falling then to his knee.  Then the Clash disappear, surrounded at first by the enthusiastic kids and journalists looking for hasty contacts, then are swallowed for the night. The exclusive interview is realized later in the evening in the hotel room of Strummer, while the other Clash members come and go. Joe looks for a long time at past editions of Rockerilla and consents to a long chat of almost two hours. 

"I don't know, it is strange to be here in Bologna, I have waited a lot for this moment and I am interdicted now. I have been around here for only this afternoon and tonight, but I would like to be able to remain longer. Is Bologna so different from London? There is an old song of the Rolling Stones, Street Fighting Man,that says "What can make poor boy do in sleepy London but to play in a rock'n'roll band". I believe that is honest. There is no revolution in England. There are no street fighting men. Do you understand me? There are the punks, the skin-heads, the mods, the teds, the rastas and the rockabilly rebels, and other gangs that fight amongst themselves. But they don't unite amongst themselves to demolish Margaret Thatcher, there is no organization. Myself I escaped from the organization, I don't tolerate to be organized, I am a rebel, my own life is a testimony of rebellion. I have lived for years in bleak rooms in frightening districts. Without a job and without money, picking up yes or no two pounds every week playing in the tunnels of the Underground. And in this way I discovered rock'n'roll, finding myself in the evening to play  with others like me in small garages. We are  a garageband and we come from garageland. I don't come after all from a poor family, but I have been in an awful school, very rigid, Victorian, where brutality was the rule. 

There I have had to learn to be rebellious. Don't go to work in a factory, because there they kill you. To burn my life to intensely spend it. This has meant for me to be a rebel. And I'm doing it now, well or badly, perhaps uselessly. You see, I am a man of not great intellect, simple, I am not an intellectual. I have never understood Marx, I have tried to read him, but I have always given up, because every time I felt  confused in the head, and instead I would be happy if someone could explain him to me. Then I conduct my type of rebellion. This is my politics. It is every day, every second of my life. What we try to do with the music is to discover the truth. The truth of life. It cannot be that you go to school, then you grow up, you look for a job, you get married, you become old and then... it cannot be this way. To go looking for a job, to stand in line to the office of unemployment as I have done for years, to turn with no destination in the streets of London without knowing what to do and in the evening get drunk and make brawls. It cannot be this way. I have my life to live. I prefer to burn than this. I want to say... I my head is confused , ideas hum inside me as bees, it hurts me". Joe Stops speaking, he presses the temples and closes the eyes, continuing to smoke a cigarette one after the other. Then he raises his head again and continues "what I want to say is that every thing exists because if you want, you can get it. And if indeed you want it, you will succeed there, anyway and at any cost." I ask him to talk about the history of their attitude toward terrorism and the armed groups, considering also the famous shirt of RAF and BR in Hyde Park, one photo of him in a concert that has bewildered many, considering the blood that terrorism has spread through Italian society of recent years. He listens very intently and nodding. Then he interrupts me and says "I can explain to you the reason for this. I saw what the Red Brigades did and I immediately understood that I would not have been able to do it. I don't want to kill and I don't want to be killed. And I told me "You will never do it, Joe, your assignment is create unity and you have to do it with rock'n'roll."

I can never be on their side, but it fascinated me, it frightened me and their ability also fascinated me, to grasp a weapon and to make themselves be listened to. Because in England nobody dares . The shirt, I put on exclusively for provocation. We was not in Hyde park but in Victoria park, and we played for  Rock Against Racism, and although it was a correct movement, which we supported for a while, but we later understood that there was rottenness, political jealousies and exploitation by EMI, that contracted the Tom Robinson Band and it stamped all those shirts and pins with the symbol of RAR. 

He stops, takes a long drag on a cigarette and then imitating the voice of Johnny Rotten sings "EMI". Then Continues.  "So I wanted to provoke them and resolved to put that shirt with a similar star but very different. They didn't like it. Then we broke up with them. You see, I am not a politician but what I know is I can tell the lies and I want the truth. And the life we are leading helps me, because we drive a lot and I see things from more points of view. Also this problem of terrorism, that I saw in a certain way in London, of liking somehow.  But I now understand that London is alone... " He stops halfway, perhaps looking around him for an example, then he tightens his thumb and index finger and continues "... jusyt one point on the globe. And what seemed to me correct and clear, is not  anymore. Before I could think that the BR or the RAF or the IRA represented a way, even though that one I didn't share, to rebel. But today I don't believe it anymore, because I see that terrorism sows only blood. I know that in Italy they continue to kill and that some days ago they have killed a communist journalist (it is evident that he has red the news of the killing of Walter Tobagi, a leftwinger) and this is really no fucking way of living. I now understand it, I didn't understand it before." He stops again, inhaling deep his spliff again, his third one. He gets up to drink, dressed in black as Montgomery Clift, his movie hero to which he has written "The Right Profile". I ask him if he thinks one impression of mine is wrong, to see comparisons between a scene described in London's Burning and a scene in "The Clockwork Orange". "It is a dark and violent, gray and oppressive place. As for the scene that you said we had seen from Mick Jones’ flat one evening we found how it was similar to that of "The Clockwork Orange" and so we inserted it in the song." 

In enters with his limping walk Paul Simonon, he skims through Rockerilla and he asks when he can speak to "this fuckin mister Longo", as he would like to to say something to him, about him not anticipating and creating problems for the concert, especially that  the band had not known in time the changes to the programme, and had arrived in the evening later finding it a bitter surprise.

I ask him if indeed the roofs of Brixton are full of rifles and he answers "Oh, not really, that song serves only as a admonishment, because certain people don't go to Brixton. The police in fact don't go there anymore." Topper Headon has disappeared and Mick Jones arrives together with Electrolux,  "she is a true punk-girl. Very smart and definite. I met her in the street a little while ago." I ask Joe Strummer what he thinks of 1984 by George Orwell. "In our country -he says - it is already a sad reality. We don't have Big Brother but Big Sister, that is Margaret Thatcher. All the newspapers are on her side. For this I also say "what else can make a poor boy do than play in a rock'n'roll band?. But he understands me well. We have come to this strange and calm Bologna, so

different from London and it has been beautiful. We have also met some punks that have told us they hate us, they prefer Crass. I have tried to understand why, we have talked. They said that we were such bastards to have played in a concert organized by the communists. I have never listened to Crass but I have read some interviews of theirs and I don't have anything against them, they seem a lot like we were in the beginning, but soon they will change certain ways of seeing things.But one thing I know. What happened last night has been very beautiful, just like other concerts, in England, a long time ago, the greatest concert of our life. And in that place that I call "my city" it would be impossible, they would arrest us if we played in a concert, with about ten thousand young people, organized by the communists in a great square in London. For this it has been great what has happened. However please note, when I say "what else can a poor boy do", it is not an alibi. Rock'n'roll has given me hope, and it is a form of culture that gives strength and identity to young people.

I loved Elvis Presley so much, and it disgusted me that when he died, some punks  went around in London saying "an old bitch is dead, we don't trust idols". Those same punks that later said, when Sid Vicious died, that Sid was a symbol and would never die, as I have read tonight on a wall in Bologna. Whoever has written those things is stupid. For me Elvis was not an idol, he was a man, it was as a rock'n'roller, that I  loved him , as Buddy Holly, a true artist as were the early Rolling Stones, those of "Not Fade Away". But Elvis has been the greatest, on "That's alright mama" and other great tracks of rock'n'roll and rockabilly. As for Sid, well, he is dead indeed, and it is useless to pretend that it's not true. It is a mythological attitude, entirely similar to that of those fuckers from the "Sun" who when Sid died, they devoted to him the whole front page, almost exultant, as if to say " Sid Vicious is dead , the number one punk! Do you see what happens? ". So the idols are built up, but with punk we wanted heroes not to be built anymore. I am not a hero, I am just me, and I needed some time to understand that,...just another fucking person".

He stops, lowers his head, raises it again and looks atme. I ask him what he thinks about the famous words of Neil Young on Elvis Presley and Johnny Rotten. He nods,smiles and  asks not to speak about it. "I , with Johnny, I want to follow the words "live and let live", I prefer not to speak."  

I insist. "Well, I think that Johnny Rotten is forgotten indeed, and in his place there is John Lydon, that I don't understand. But I know that he is intelligent and I think that we have to let him work. And that PIL will give some fruits, even if today I don't understand them." I ask him if he remembers the title of the first film of James Dean. "Sure, it was Rebel without a cause. I am not like this. I am a rebel. But I have a cause, I know it well, I know exactly what I want,and I use my head, I don't follow the fashions; thing that instead in London it is very frequent and source even of boast. And if someone strikes me, I am harder twice in responding to him. How does Ivan says "the harder they come, the harder they fall". But how much have we achieved? Sid is dead with a needle in a vein, and there is nothing to glorify in this. Sid was a good boy and god I never recognized how some journalists and some punks made him a myth. And the others? Johnny Rotten has gone, Captain and Dave Vanian are in  a blindalley. We perhaps remain alone in holding the line, but we carry on. I don't know how much and up to what point. What the press and our record company said, doesn't interest me. "The only band that counts" they have called us.