The Clash booked a seven-night stand at the Bonds nightclub in Times Square in the spring of 1981. It was partially a public relations stunt, since they knew the mad scramble for tickets would make for great press. These were their only American dates of the year, and demand outstripped supply by a huge margin. Fans slept in the streets to score tickets, and that was no fun task in Times Square in 1981.
They opened on May 30th, but the fire chief tried to shut down the gig because the box office was oversold. The news nearly caused a riot in Times Square and the tabloid papers played it up big the following day. "They sold the same number of tickets for a gig that happened the night before with a group called the Plasmatics," bassist Paul Simonon said. "And they blew up a car on stage!"
The band responded by adding eight additional shows so that all ticketholders could attend a show. The 15-night stand is now seen as one of the finest moments in New York rock history. The group booked an incredible array of openers for the shows, including the Fall, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Dead Kennedys and Lee "Scratch" Perry. Check out this video of "Safe European Home" from June 9th, 1981.
The Clash reached new commercial heights in 1982 with the release of Combat Rock and the hit "Rock the Casbah," but drummer Topper Headon was tossed out of the band due to his severe heroin addiction. They brought original drummer Terry Chimes back on board, but things were never the same, even though the band limped along for a few more years. The peak of their whole run may well have been the Bonds residency.This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone: Flashback: The Clash Take New York in 1981