Friday, May 15, 2009

The Clash on Broadway

I mentioned the other day that the Clash made their American television debut on ABC's Fridays in April 1980. This was the start of kind of a whirlwind tour of late-night TV for the boys. They did the requisite stop on Saturday Night Live in October 1982, on a show hosted by Ron Howard, but more interestingly, they also appeared on the Tomorrow show just after Sandinista! came out in 1981.

Those of you who know Tom Snyder only from his parodies on SNL might want to check this out: He is respectful of and curious about the band, and Topper Headon repays his interest by sticking a Clash button in his lapel. The boys are relaxed and jovial, even though they're all four crammed on some kind of plastic bench.

The Clash did "The Magnificent Seven" on that show, in all probability introducing rap to the Tomorrow show, as well as "This Is Radio Clash," whose herky-jerky rhythms were apparently hard to reproduce live. For musical performances, the real keeper remains that first one: They played "London Calling" and "Train in Vain" back to back, and in keeping with Fridays' pre-Seinfeld theme, Mick Jones looked like a very young Jerry in a big grape-colored suit: