Reminded me once again that Eric Clapton is an asshole:
The summer of 1976 brought another pivotal event, Eric Clapton’s drunken rant on stage at Birmingham, in which he acclaimed Enoch Powell as the politician who would “stop Britain from becoming a black colony… the black wogs and coons and fucking Jamaicans don’t belong here”. From a man which had topped the US charts with a cover of Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”, this was shocking stuff and inspired the formation of Rock Against Racism (RAR).
British reggae swiftly acquired a new militancy and ubiquity. Steel Pulse sang “Ku Klux Klan” with the Klan’s white hoods on their heads. Linton Kwesi Johnson proclaimed it was “Dread Inna Inglan” and warned “get ready for war”. The growing roster of home-grown acts – Misty in Roots, Reggae Regular, Black Slate – found exposure on RAR stages and, after John Peel’s conversion from prog rock, on his Radio 1 show and its live sessions.
Aside from its social commentary, reggae became chic due to its sonic radicalism, with its dub, rap and special disco mixes picked up by rock and soul. “Reggae taught us about space, leaving gaps. It was such a relief after the strictness and minimalism of punk,” says Viv Albertine, guitarist with the Slits, whose 1979 album, Cut, was produced by Dennis Bovell.
In the post-punk era, the Clash, the Members and the Ruts were other rock bands incorporating reggae into their sound, along with the Police, who deftly integrated reggae on hits ‘Message in a Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon”. “We plundered reggae mercilessly,” acknowledges drummer Stewart Copeland on Reggae Britannia.
(click to continue reading Reggae: the sound that revolutionised Britain | Music | Music | The Observer.)
And always a good excuse to play music by Linton Kwesi Johnson, the political, poetical reggae master.
Here’s a transcript of what Eric Clapton said, btw.
Do we have any foreigners in the audience tonight? If so, please put up your hands. Wogs I mean, I’m looking at you. Where are you? I’m sorry but some fucking wog…Arab grabbed my wife’s bum, you know? Surely got to be said, yeah this is what all the fucking foreigners and wogs over here are like, just disgusting, that’s just the truth, yeah. So where are you?
Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our country. You fucking (indecipherable). I don’t want you here, in the room or in my country. Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch’s our man. I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man.
Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking (indecipherable) don’t belong here, we don’t want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country. I don’t want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards.
This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck’s sake? We need to vote for Enoch Powell, he’s a great man, speaking truth. Vote for Enoch, he’s our man, he’s on our side, he’ll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he’s on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!