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Upcoming Academic Conference Studies the Clash’s Legacy

Pennie Smith

This news really doesn’t surprise us, since we’ve always considered the Clash one of the most studied and smartest rock bands to ever walk the planet: The Only Band That Matters are the subject of an upcoming academic conference in Belfast.

According to the BBC, the punk titans will be studied, dissected and discussed at the University of Ulster’s Belfast campus on June 20-21. The conference will focus on the band’s impact and legacy.

And it couldn’t be happening in a more appropriate place. As the BBC story points out, Northern Ireland was filled with violent bombings in 1977 because of the Troubles. So most bands stayed far away from the troubled city at the time.

But the Clash booked a concert at Ulster Hall in October of that year. But at the last second, as fans gathered outside the venue, the show was called off as reports circulated that the group could not get into the venue.

“Someone said the Clash were at the Ulster Hall but were not being allowed in,” recalled Paul Burgess, who was one of the fans at the show and the organizer of the upcoming symposium. “Then there was a crowd broke off running around saying the lead singer Joe Strummer had been arrested at the Europa Hotel.”

The Belfast Telegraph at the time reported that the concert was canceled because insurance coverage for the band was pulled. But the paper also noted that the safety-pin-sporting fans gathered outside the hall caused a riot, with windows being broken and arrests made.

The conference will look back on the event with the people who were there, like photographers and fans. It will also discuss the band’s legacy over the subsequent decades.

As one professor associated with the conference noted to the BBC, “The band’s musical and political horizons were so broad that they broadened everyone else’s as well. Listening to the Clash was a cultural and political education second to none.”

And if you need a reminder why they mattered so much, watch this:

Next: 10 Best Clash Songs

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