Tuesday, August 30, 2016

40 Year Itch : A Riot of My Own

The Clash : White Riot (demo)

On August 30, 1976 The Notting Hill Carnival erupted in riots between mostly black youths and police. More than a hundred police officers wound up in the hospital . So did 60 carnival goers. About 66 arrests were made. 

The riot is believed to have been ignited when police tried to arrest a suspected pickpocket. Members of the crowd came to the suspect's aid, throwing rocks and other objects. As the police protected themselves, the youths marched up the street throwing rocks through windows and tipping over a police van. 

Among the witnesses were Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon of  The Clash. They wrote "White Riot" about the event. Among the song lyrics :

Black man gotta lotta problems 
But they don't mind throwing a brick 
White people go to school 
Where they teach you how to be thick  

The song was recorded as a demo for Polydor in late 1976 and appeared on the Clash's debut album.

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