Debunking the myths about the Clash's live debut and three classic Limit gigs

2.3, B-52's, Buzzcocks, Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotton, Keith Levene, Mick Jones, Paul Bower, Paul Simonon, Siouxsie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Clash, The Cramps, The Heartdrops, The Meteors, Tiswas, Woody Woodmansey -

Debunking the myths about the Clash's live debut and three classic Limit gigs

It has gone down in history as one of the most famous gigs ever to take place in Sheffield – despite only about 50 people witnessing it.

And like any event that is now written (and re-written) into folklore, fact is regularly distilled by fiction.

One man that definitely was at the live public debut of the Clash that took place at Snig Hill’s Black Swan on July 4th, 1976, was Nigel Lockwood.

You’d expect nothing else from a man that recently notched up his 3,000th gig.

He can debunk a few myths that have built up about the gig.

“It was a five piece line-up which included Keith Levene on rhythm guitar, Paul Simonon on bass, Mick Jones on lead guitar, frontman Joe Strummer and a drummer who identity remains a mystery. The Buzzcocks weren’t on the bill. It was just the Sex Pistols supported by the Clash.”

One thing he can confirm – which isn’t widely known – was the fact the band were nearly called ‘the Weak Heartdrops’.

He said: “The Heartdrops was crossed out on the poster and the The Clash scribbled in its place. Everyone sat down for the entire gig and they performed for about 40 minutes.

It was early rumours circulating about Sex Pistols’ frontman Johnny Rotten that got him there in the first place.

“My mate Paul Sharp suggested we needed to go see this singer with green teeth that threw chairs at people. I was intrigued! Paul later became guitarist and co-founder of 2.3 with my ex-school chum Paul Bower.”

It was a busy day for Nigel and Paul – they’d also gone to Leeds to see a PA by Woody Woodmansey’s U-Boat.

Nigel Lockwood fell hook, line and sinker for punk. He’d already caught Siouxsie and the Banshees at Doncaster Outlook on December 5th 1977, a few  months before they performed as one of the opening acts at West Street’s Limit – another of the city’s iconic gigs.

“I remember the atmosphere felt very ‘nightclub-ish’ and a fight broke out. There was no support and I remember seeing the band humping the gear into the venue themselves!”

Siouxsie and the Banshees at the Limit - pic by Pete Hill

Siouxsie and the Banshees at The Limit - photo by Pete Hill

Excitement around the arrival of the B-52’s was circulating weeks before they made their UK debut at the Limit.

“It was classic media manipulation – they were promoting their first single ‘Rock Lobster’ which became a staple diet of Limit DJ Paul Unwin . I don’t think they’d even released anything but everyone had heard about their ‘60s image and female vocals. You knew they were going to be big.”

The Cramps at the Limit - photo by Pete Hill
The Cramps at the Limit - photo by Pete Hill

The Cramps already had big things to live up to when they appeared on stage at the Limit.

“I’d seen the Tiswas Roadshow at the Hardstoft Shoulder of Mutton the night before – it was great”, said Nigel. “Talk about the sublime to the ridiculous!”

“The Cramps were all psychobilly and Lux Interior and Poison Ivy were the perfect foils. The Meteors were admirable support who had their own fans.”

Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and Nigel Lockwood in the early 1980s

Sex Pistol Glen Matlock that helped corroborate info regarding the Clash gig with Nigel Lockwood in the early 1980s