The Clash Live At Shea Stadium is an historic recording of one of punk’s most innovative and original bands. After 26 years of gathering dust, the tapes were found, cleaned up, and released.
“I knew we recorded the gig, but it never occurred to me that the tapes were sitting in someone’s wardrobe,” says Clash drummer Terry Chimes, in his well-mannered English accent. “I’m pleased that it has been released, as it is really the pinnacle of what we did that year.”
Chimes was a founding member of The Clash, later playing with Billy Idol, Black Sabbath, and others before being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2003. These days Chimes is an acupuncturist and chiropractor, traveling the world with those skills and training others in success. It’s a huge step away from that Shea Stadium gig.
“It seemed we’d been touring forever and playing to an audience that was a mixture of Who fans and whoever else. We thought that we’d better hit them with our best shot rather than get too indulgent and move out!
“We’d never played to an audience of that size, but of all people, Mick Jagger came into the dressing room saying, ’We’ve done lots of these and it is scary, but once you’ve done one, they’re all the same.’ Which is exactly how it was. But thinking back, 70,000 people is a lot of people!”
It’s not as if the mood was usually laid-back in the band’s dressing room, though. “The Clash was a very tense band to be in right from the start, almost combat-like. Plus, there were the politics that the band were known for, which could become a pain. But we felt that if you were going on stage and saying something, then it might as well be something worth saying.”
Early on, Chimes was in and out of the band on an almost yo-yo basis. And when he told of his desire to leave, they tried to convince him to stay. Chimes stood firm, a decision that wasn’t well received. “They began auditioning drummers and apparently they couldn’t find anyone, so they became more conciliatory towards me. I thought about it, and after all the hard work that we’d done to get the band going it seemed crazy not to record with them. It was getting something back for the work that I’d done, and I carried on doing shows, but in the end I had to give them a final cut-off point. And then they found Topper [Headon]. I felt that all the arguments within the band were me versus everybody else, as I was different to them, being a teetotaler and a vegetarian. Plus, I was better looking. [laughs]. I had a rule that I wouldn’t do anything that didn’t make me happy. So when the arguments began I felt I had to move on.”