Wednesday 13 May 2015

"Love Music Hate Racism"

"Rock Against Racism" was a British grassroots movement that started in 1976 - at a time nationalist groups such as the far-right white supremacist National Front (one slogan: "The National Front advocates a total ban on any further non-White immigration into Britain, and the launching of a phased plan of repatriation for all coloured immigrants.") were gathering power. It was also a reaction to racist statements by well-known musicians (via and via). A massive concert was held, headlined by The Clash and Tom Robinson, at London's Victoria Park on 30th of April 1978 (via); 42 coaches came from Glasgow, 15 from Sheffield, a trainload from Manchester (via). 100.000 people marched across London to support Rock Against Racism (via). In 2002, Rock Against Racism was revived and renamed Love Music Hate Racism (via). Concerts include several music genres because the organisation believes "that society's diversity is reflected in music" (via).

Mainly, Rock Against Racism was a direct response to Eric Clapton's remarks made during a concert in 1976 (via).
Do we have any foreigners in the audience tonight? If so, please put up your hands. Wogs I mean, I'm looking at you. Where are you? I'm sorry but some fucking wog...Arab grabbed my wife's bum, you know? Surely got to be said, yeah this is what all the fucking foreigners and wogs over here are like, just disgusting, that's just the truth, yeah. So where are you? Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our country. You fucking (indecipherable). I don't want you here, in the room or in my country. Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch's our man. I think Enoch's right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I'm into racism. It's much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking (indecipherable) don't belong here, we don't want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don't want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country. I don't want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards. This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck's sake? We need to vote for Enoch Powell, he's a great man, speaking truth. Vote for Enoch, he's our man, he's on our side, he'll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he's on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!  (via
The same Eric Clapton was a big fan of the black blues musician Muddy Waters who highly influenced Clapton's music career (via). The same Eric Clapton called the black musician Robert Leroy Johnson "the most important blues singer that ever lived" (via). And it was Eric Clapton who had a No. 1 single with Bob Marley's reggae classic "I Shot the Sheriff" which "also helped send his second solo album to the top of the chart" (via). Understanding racism probably requires understanding a very specific logic that is based on a highly selective perception.

"Before Rock against Racism there was a sense that it was OK to be racist."
Gurinder Chadha

"What mattered was the fact that we all took part in an astonishing celebration of music, fun, justice and the politics of tolerance. The struggle for a more just and civilised society is an ongoing fight that each generation has to carry forward."
Tom Robinson

"Rock against Racism made it cool to be anti-racist."
John Street 

photographs by Syd Shelton via and via and by Chris Steele-Perkins via and by Syd Shelton again via and via and via


  1. Clapton is a xenophobic pudding.

  2. Clapton's music, hahahahaha
    Clapton's thoughts, hahahahaha

  3. Hilarious. Thank you for your brilliant comments, Karen and Derek! :-)