Off we go again then and thanks for visiting the site/welcome back. One last round of summer here with temperatures about 24 degrees (f) higher than they are meant to be. I genuinely think that The Clash had loftier topics to write about 30 odd years ago than we do today but at least the weather was a bit more normal, except the abnormally hot English summer of 1976, which helped fuel the punk scene, which totally contradicts climate change. Glad I brought that up in the first place.
Bernie Rhodes will be a happy man this morning in his secret west London volcano hideaway as he made a list. He did you know. Seems that Bernard made a list of ‘The craziest managers in music’ and while there are dozens of adjectives I can associate with Rhodes crazy wouldn’t be one of them. Perhaps he should never have come back to manage The Clash but it is more than fair to say that without his initial guidance we may well not be discussing them today. I’d also be inclined to still wonder how things may have turned out it he had never returned to manage the band for a second go round. Even during that time when most will cite Rhodes as a key cause of the famous lineup disintegrating it was also preceded by the band having their most successful album. I think that Bernie felt the only way for the band to progress when he returned was to get them back to following his lead as they had done in 1976/7 but it was a different time by then and all four members had their own thoughts about how things should be.
Would Topper and Mick have been ousted from The Clash if Rhodes had never come back into the fold? We can never say for certain but I’m sure most will say things would have been very different. Another factor that can’t be ignored is that Rhodes also went on to manage both The Specials and the far less celebrated JoBoxers, even managing different bands simultaneously. Here’s a link to the article which just posted on Australia’s ToneDeaf website.
I could write at length about Rhodes and probably riddle myself into such circles that I’d bore a hole into the ground. I’ve tried and failed to sum it up before. I’m positive that he put The Clash on the map by having them write and sing about the topics that he recommended, it is the period of time towards the end that I’m less certain about. I think that Joe Strummer felt he needed Bernie to take some of the weighty decisions from Joe’s shoulders. Strummer not only invariably became the band’s mouthpiece on stage but was increasingly (wrongly?) perceived in the same way by the music press who wanted Joe to solve everything. I also think that many of the bigger decisions about the band and how they were making marketing decisions seemed to fall on Joe and I believe Joe felt he needed an ally to help him with Mick who became more difficult as their fame grew.
At the core of all that is something I’ve written about a few times before; as the oldest member of the band Joe felt added responsibility in making important decisions for the band and I wonder how often the others looked to him for guidance? Did he perhaps contrast 1979-81 with the earlier years in the band and felt the return of Bernie would allow him to focus on being Joe and provide a consistent ally? Idle speculation from me of course but my only experience of Bernie was the exchange of a number of emails a few years ago. They were as open and undemanding as possible from me, wondering if he’d care to write something for the blog about his own views on music, society etc and not limit the topic to The Clash. He said he would write something ‘later’ but nothing came of it. I might just ask again. Perhaps one day he’ll get a book written or we may never get to hear his point of view, I think his importance in both the beginning and the end of the band are both probably understated and still overtly cloudy and we may never get nearer than that which would be a shame really but I won’t hold my breath.
Some pair of lawyers are arguing on telly right now, I guess I should watch that. Back soon and until then don’t forget you can stay current or interact via our growing Facebook gang or yap at me via Twitter and if you don’t want the hassle of visiting the site it can be mailed direct to you each day via the RSS feed.