Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret History of The Clash
Stealing All Transmissions is a love story. It’s the story of how The Clash fell in love with America, and how America loved them back. The romance began in full in 1977, when select rock journalists and deejays aided the band’s quest to depose the rock of indolence that dominated American airwaves. This history situates The Clash amid the cultural skirmishes of the 1970s and culminates with their September 1979 performance at the Palladium in New York City. This concert was broadcast live on WNEW, and it concluded with Paul Simonon treating his Fender bass like a woodcutter's ax.
This performance produced one of the most exhilarating Clash bootleg recordings, and the photo of Simonon’s outburst which graced the cover of the London Calling LP was recently deemed the greatest rock’n’roll photograph of all time. That night marked one of the last opportunities for American audiences to see The Clash as a punk band, teetering between conviction and uncertainty, before they became a seriously brilliant rock group.
Stealing represents a distinctive take on the history of punk, for no other book gives proper attention to the forces of free-form radio, long-form rock journalism, or Clash bootleg recordings, many of which are now widely available on the web. This story, which takes its title from the 1981 single “Radio Clash,” includes original interviews with key figures from the New York punk scene. This secret history concludes with an analysis of how we listen to music today and its impact on the written word.
“Stealing is unlike anything else you’ve ever read about The Clash. The maneuvers by American radio DJs, music journalists, and record company execs are deftly woven into the band’s own story.”
—Barry "The Baker" Auguste, roadie for The Clash
“With Stealing All Transmissions, Randal Doane documents with wit and verve how The Clash leapt from the Westway to the USA in 1979 with the help of rock journalists and key deejays in the States. It was an honor to work with The Clash back in the day, and a pleasure revisiting those days through this book. It’s a must have for Clashophiles on both sides of the Atlantic.”
—Dan Beck, former senior vice president at Epic Records
“Stealing is a must-read for music fans of all varieties, for it’s much more than a book about The Clash. With a captivating narrative and well-written prose, Stealing makes sense of what happened to free-form radio and the DIY ethic of punk, and deftly connects that history to the era of file-sharing and satellite radio. Don’t miss this book. Steal it if you must!”
—Michael Roberts, author of Tell Tchaikovsky the News: Rock ’n’ Roll, the Labor Question, and the Musicians’ Union, 1942–1968
“Randal Doane’s Stealing All Transmissions is not the story I was expecting from the title. Thankfully. We have all read those books about artists of all stripes (and zippers), from which we learn only about misery, malfeasance, and bad behavior. But this is not that book. The Clash is at the center of the story, but the heart of it belongs to other players. People drawn into the orbit who cared, who pushed both themselves and the band forward, who took risks because they felt and knew they were seeing and hearing a revolution. The people who were excited and inspired by the catalysts (The Clash), whose stories are integral to the core of the band’s American journey, and fascinating to finally read about, all in one place.
I loved (and envied) The Clash—the gang of four who dressed better, who wore their hearts and mistakes on their zippered sleeves, and played songs with the force of racehorses bursting from the gate. A good number of people got it from the outset—and because of them as much as the band themselves, an even greater number eventually ‘got it.’ And they are still getting it.
A large and raucous cheer to Randal Doane for choosing the near-mythical Baker to write the foreword. We are treated to nearly two books in one! Ladies and gentlemen, please raise your glasses and cans to Messrs. Doane and Auguste. A triumphant work from this unlikely Gang of Two.”
—Hugo Burnham, founder and drummer, Gang of Four, associate professor, New England Institute of Art
About the Contributors:
Randal Doane grew up in Northern California on a diet of casseroles, iceberg lettuce, and rockabilly. He spent decades collecting college degrees, and has published essays and articles on music and aesthetics, illegal file-sharing, Ralph Ellison, Sigmund Freud, Brian Wilson, and Bruce Springsteen. He works as an assistant dean at Oberlin College. In his spare time, he still listens to vinyl records on his hi-fi. Randal also sends out the occasional transmission about the punk and post-punk eras via stealingalltransmissions.wordpress.com and twitter at@stealingclash
Barry "The Baker" Auguste served as backline roadie and drum tech for The Clash from 1976 to 1983. He lives outside of Philadelphia, blogs periodically at thebaker77.wordpress.com, and is holding out hope for humanity, for now.
Author: Randal Doane • Foreword by Barry "The Baker" Auguste
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 192