Music that knows who the real enemy is

'Vote for Enoch Powell,' came the counsel from a stage in the West Midlands. 'Stop Britain from becoming a black colony ... Get the foreigners out ... I used to be into dope, now I'm into racism. It's much heavier, man.' Not some ranting nutcase from the National Front, but an inebriated Eric Clapton (now CBE), formerly of Cream and latterly of Hello! magazine. Yes, Clapton - who played the blues, but whose outburst in August 1976 came hot on the heels of another from David Bowie, proclaiming Adolf Hitler to be 'the first rock star' and urging that what Britain needed was a 'right-wing dictatorship'.

People may feel grateful to Bowie and Clapton for their own reasons, but perhaps the most gratifying contribution this duo made to music was to detonate the revulsion at their sentiments and clear the stage for
Rock Against Racism, the first edition of whose fanzine, Temporary Hoarding, appeared on May Day 30 years ago. 'We want rebel music,' it proclaimed. 'Crisis Music. Now Music. Music that knows who the real enemy is. Rock Against Racism.'

Essential reading from today's Observer. Which does prompt the question, is classical music really a multicultural community?

Header photo is the Clash performing at the 1978 Rock Against Racism event, when 100,000 people marched the six miles from Trafalgar Square through London's East End - the heart of National Front territory - to a Rock Against Racism concert in Victoria Park, Hackney. Photo credit the Combative Clash Page. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


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