Remembering a visit from one of punk's greatest bands
By Steven Sandor | June 28, 2022
Forty years later, and Dennis Lenarduzzi still has it. A backstage pass. Auto-graphed by the members of one of the greatest bands in the history of not just punk, but of the giant family of rock music as a whole. A band that would go on to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the night that the Clash played in Edmonton, at Kinsmen Fieldhouse, in front of an estimated 7,000 people. June 29, 1982, to be exact.
“It is one of my most prized possessions,” says Lenarduzzi, who is currently a partner and creative director of the Makespace Group and languagearts.io.
The Clash’s London Calling appears on list after list of the greatest albums of all time, talked about in the same breath as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. as the records pretty well everyone must own.
Lenarduzzi wishes that he could have soaked up more from the experience.
“It was a bit of a religious experience for those of us who loved the first wave of punk,” he says. “I was a kid at the time. If I could go back in time, and know what I know now, it would be a little different.”
Why? Because it would be the only time he’d see the band.
Lenarduzzi played bass in an Edmonton rockabilly band called the Draggnetts. They were heavily influenced by the Clash’s mix of punk, rockabilly and reggae music. The Clash understood that punk had its rebel roots in those other musical forms and traditions. When the Clash toured North America, they were looking for local bands to open for them from city to city. The Draggnetts didn’t get the spot, but Lenarduzzi knew the band that did. So, he got a gig being a roadie for Herald Nix, meaning he’d be backstage.
While he was able to speak briefly with the late Joe Strummer, he was able to sit down and talk with bass player Paul Simonon.
“He told me that the key to being a better bass player was to listen to reggae music.”
Later, guitar player Mick Jones would form Big Audio Dynamite, which combined punk with the fresh sound coming out of New York City, hip-hop.
“That’s the thing about the Clash, they were at a pivotal point in musical history where so many things came together, and they had a major role to play,” says Lenarduzzi. “You can draw a straight line from the Clash to the Beastie Boys… I still think they are the only band that mattered.”
This article appears in the June 2022 issue of Edify