The story of Black Market Clash

One day lead singer Ed Shelton saw a scrawled note on an office notice board: “4th member wanted for Clash tribute – quiff and bad teeth an advantage”. Despite his lack of both, one rehearsal later – and a few pints in a Camden boozer – he was in. That was October 1998.

Around this time one Paul O’Connell, sometime psychy-nurse and local promoter,came to check the band out in Holloway’s notorious Backstreet Studios. Stay Free sold him, and he gave us our first gig at the Red Eye near Caledonian Road, London on February 16th.

Since that first gig the band has toured the country. Just like the real Clash, the band has had its share of drummer problems. Our Terry Chimes – an old geezer who could have been Topper’s dad – slipped a disc the afternoon of a make or break gig at the Hope and Anchor. Luckily a mate of the band came down from Ormskirk to save our skins that time, but the Black Market Clash needed a Topper.

Luckily we found him. Respect is due to Dan Barrow – a multi-talented instrumentalist who has also stood in as a ‘Mick’ once or twice.

By the end of 1999 we had played round the country, from Lincoln to Southampton, and a lot of places in between. We also played with some of the lads in punk tributes like the X-Pistols from Lincoln – great lads – and Leeds-based Strangler’s Tribute Orange Alert.

The band plays everything just like the Clash. We have a set of over 40 of the top Clash songs to choose from, so we can play a two and a half hour set if necessary. Black Market Clash shows offer crowd faves like: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?, Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad, White Riot, Rock the Casbah, Tommy Gun, I Fought the Law, White Man (In Hammersmith Palais), London Calling and Bankrobber – plus loads of obscure B-sides and album tracks for die-hard Clash fans. If you come along and shout loud enough we can do you things like 1-2 Crush On You, the Prisoner or Police on my Back.

Meanwhile, the Clash have come back with a vengeance. Since we started playing, there has been the live Clash album, the Westway to the World TV documentary and Strummer’s recent album and tour. There’s also been an album of Clash covers released in the US. The aim of the band is to keep the Clash’s music alive and kicking and it looks like there will be more and more people discovering and rediscovering the band in the future.