close
close

How three teenagers opened for The Clash 40 years ago

It’s been 40 years since female punk rock band The Dishrags landed a gig opening for The Clash at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom.

In 1979, band members Jill Bain, Chris Lalonde and Carmen Michaud were 17 years old when they performed on The Clash’s North American debut.

“It was a really exciting moment because we were huge Clash fans,” said lead singer Bain, also known as Jade Blade.

The band from Vancouver played a cover of The Clashs London is burning as an encore.

“I think the biggest thrill was that when we played the song, The Clash were actually standing at the side of the stage dancing. I mean, it was just the greatest thing to see them there,” Bain said. Early edition Presenter Stephen Quinn.

Getting the gig

Bain and her bandmates were fairly new to the music scene, having dropped out of high school in Central Saanich just two years earlier to pursue their punk music dreams in Vancouver.

She believes that The Clash’s manager, Caroline Coon, had the idea to hire the girls.

“(She) had her own mandate to hire female bands to open for The Clash,” Bain said.

“They hired female bands at every opportunity. That was great because punk offered a certain opening for women to enter the scene.”

The Dishrags continued to get gigs and play together until 1980, after which the band members began playing with parody bands for a while.

Bain said by this time the punk scene had changed and was no longer as familial as it had been when they joined, but the women continued to work with other groups such as Corsage into the 1980s.

Today, Bain teaches art history at the University of the Fraser Valley, Lalonde lives in Nanaimo and is a bus driver, and Michaud lives on Salt Spring Island.

novelty

In 1979, The Dishrags emerged as an all-female punk band.

“It was pretty new and I think that was an advantage for us in that we showed up on a lot of bills because we were kind of a newbie,” Bain said.

“But it was also really difficult because we weren’t taken seriously because we were considered a novelty.”

Don DentonDon Denton

Don Denton

Hanging out with the band

Bain remembers that the British punk rockers were excited to explore Vancouver as it was their first North American tour.

“(The Clash) actually came to the Windmill on Granville Street, a little, tiny punk club, and hung out there,” she said.

“We also got to hang out with them before the show, which was really nerve-wracking because we were three 17-year-old girls and these guys were our idols.”

She remembers being delighted with the buffet dinner that was served to them, but being too nervous to eat.

“(We) were pushing the food back and forth on our plates while trying to strike up a conversation with these guys.”

More shows

After that evening, The Dishrags performed two more times as the opening act for The Clash and The Ramones.

The last time they performed was in 1984, supporting The Clash as background singers for the band Corsage at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

“It was actually their last show in North America, so we were able to combine the first and last shows, so to speak.”