Monthly Archives: January 2014

Why the first Clash LP was not released in the U.S.

Ok, I was nuts about the first Clash LP and p*ssed off when I discovered it would not be released in the U.S. in 1977.  So filled with righteous punk-rock indignation I wrote Epic records and incredibly got this thoughtful reply from A&R Man Bruce Harris.  Really amazing letter and amazing that he wrote back at all.  Hat’s off to you Bruce, The Clash did well in the USA and thanks for writing back to a young punk:)  CLICK LETTER IMAGE TO SEE FULL SIZE

CBS Epic Clash letter p1

CBS Epic Clash letter p2


(This is a postscript added 6/17/15.) In 1977 I was bitterly critical of Epic Records (from whom I received this reply) for not releasing the 1st Clash LP.  I was struck by recent commentary and reactions to this letter that ridiculed the author. I’m adding this PS to suggest this ridicule is a form of 20/20 hindsight to some extent. Today we all know that “punk” won, but it happened slowly.  The powers that be (in 1977) such as Rolling Stone and FM Radio willfully ignored punk.  Here is a WPLJ full page ad from Fall 1977, the playlist is hopelessly retro. For most 1977 was *not* the year of punk!


Can you imagine what people aligned to this playlist, thought of this Clash LP (image)?


So in Bruce’ Harris’s defense… he wanted a powerfully produced recording that could not be written off as garage or lo-fi, a reception that would blunt the US debut of the Clash. Today these tags are badges of honor to some extent, but to the gatekeepers of 1977, they would be grounds for dismissal. The upshot is that Epic successfully “broke” the Clash in the US.