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|Birth name||Bernard Rhodes|
|Occupation(s)||Record producer, designer, manager, songwriter|
|Associated acts||The Clash
Dexys Midnight Runners
Bernard Rhodes is a fashion designer, record producer, songwriter, manager and impresario who was integral to the development of the punk rock scene in the United Kingdom during the middle 1970s. He is most associated with two of the UK's best known punk bands, the Sex Pistols and The Clash. It was Rhodes who was responsible for discovering John Lydon and arranging the audition in the King's Road for him to join the Sex Pistols. He also introduced a young Mick Jones and Paul Simonon to Joe Strummer and together with Keith Levene they formed The Clash. Rhodes was an important force behind The Clash, not only managing their business, but also handling marketing and creative direction of the band. He left the band from 1979-1981 to pursue other opportunities, but tensions in the band led to singer-guitarist Joe Strummer demanding (and getting) his return in 1981.
Rhodes built and then operated out of his Camden studio Rehearsal Rehearsals in what is now Camden Market. The area around the studio rapidly became a well known hangout for punks and contributed to the growth of Camden as a hip area.
Since the break-up of The Clash, Rhodes has continued to be involved in fashion design and the music industry, as well as various political and social causes.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Management
- 3 Present day
- 4 References
- 5 Sources
- 6 Web, journals and magazines
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
His mother was a Russian-Jewish evacuee. She worked for Huntsman's in Saville Row making suits for Cary Grant and later Hawes & Curtis where John Pearse who later worked at Granny Takes a Trip was her apprentice.
In the early 1960s Rhodes and Pearse shared a flat at 68 Hamilton Terrace, St Johns Wood. Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan, musician Mickey Finn, the Small Faces, Guy Stevens (who Rhodes later brought in to produce The Clash) were regular visitors.
T shirts sales
During this time he became re-acquainted with previous friend Malcolm McLaren and his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood, who were operating out of SEX boutique at 430 King's Road. Finding they shared a similar philosophy, Rhodes and McLaren went into business together collaborating on several T-shirts which were then sold in SEX.
Westwood wanted to expand the sleeveless T-shirt clothing line. Rhodes collaborated with her using his skill of printing and his "complex, meandering discourse threw up many new ideas." The T-shirt You're Gonna Wake Up One Morning and Know What Side of the Bed You've Been Lying On was created and printed by Rhodes in his handwriting for the Sex boutique. Rhodes stated that "Malcolm [McLaren] likes to titillate but I get down to substance".
By 1975, SEX had become a hangout for a bunch of teenagers from which the Sex Pistols would emerge. Rhodes took the group under his wing while McLaren was in New York looking after the New York Dolls.
John Lydon states that he wore a 'I Hate Pink Floyd' T-shirt and was spotted by Rhodes on the Kings Road who insisted he meet McLaren, Steve Jones and Paul Cook in the local Roebuck pub that evening. After this get together, Rhodes had Lydon come back to the shop to audition for the role of singer.
Lydon says that Rhodes "was important to me in so many ways...He would indicate to me where the problems with the Pistols would be in the future. He would sow a seed and then wait to see if I would pick up on it.
After his offer to co-manage Sex Pistols was rejected by McLaren, Rhodes was instrumental in The Clash's formation in 1976.
Mick Jones was wearing one of Rhodes' Wake Up T-shirts when he approached Rhodes after a Sex Pistols gig thinking he was a keyboard player. They started talking about groups and the relationship was the starting point for what would eventually become The Clash.
Joe Strummer credits Rhodes as his mentor, stating "He constructed The Clash and focused our energies and we repaid him by being really good at what we did". Rhodes told them to write about social issues occurring at the time, i.e., the housing problems, lack of education, dead-end futures.
Strummer said that Rhodes was the only one who understood how one should go about getting known.
Rhodes called his friend Guy Stevens in to produce the Polydor recordings in 1977. The group later used Stevens to produce London Calling. He also sought out Lee 'Scratch' Perry to produce the single "Complete Control".
On 25 January 1977, Rhodes signed The Clash to CBS Records and Maurice Oberstein who promised to allow the group to do what they wanted on record and CBS would promote it. After a couple of albums, including their first, which Rhodes helped produce with Mickey Foote, he felt the group were drifting away from their street ideals and they parted company in late 1978.
The intro to The Specials' version of "Gangsters" begins with the line: "Bernie Rhodes knows: don't argue!"
Dexys Midnight Runners' single "Dance Stance" was released in 1979 on the Oddball Productions label owned by Rhodes . Rhodes later signed the group to EMI Records.
The first album by Subway Sect, What's the Matter Boy, was also released by Oddball in 1980.
Sean McLusky states that Rhodes gave him a break at Club Left in 1981 and then got a deal and success for his band JoBoxers. McLusky says, "Bernard never got the credit for things that were his. He has been the undefined force".
Return to The Clash
Strummer said if Rhodes did not come back and manage The Clash he would quit.
Once back, Rhodes decided to remix "Magnificent 7". A 12" single dance remix, "Magnificent Dance" was released on 12 April 1981. Production was credited to "Pepe Unidos", a pseudonym for Strummer, Rhodes and Paul Simonon. Pepe Unidos also produced "The Call Out", a re-mix of "The Call Up".
Mick: 'Bernie came back on the scene because people thought that we'd gotten out of control and the first thing he wanted to do was book us for seven nights in New York'.
The residency at Bonds NYC in the first two weeks of June 1981 was organised by Rhodes on his return as manager of The Clash. Support acts included Grandmaster Flash, The Sugarhill Gang, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, Texan bad boy Joe Ely, Lee Perry and Funkapolitan.
Rhodes states that it was because of these Bonds NYC shows that the public became more interested in hip-hop. "I endeavoured to get these guys on like Grandmaster Flash; not that most of the audience liked them but that led to a helluvalot".
The record company were not behind the triple album Sandinista! recorded in Rhodes's absence but Kosmo Vinyl states that with the Bonds NYC residency, The Clash "clawed their way back into the Premiership".
Paul Simonon states that Rhodes was not aware that Mick Jones was going to be sacked[when?] nor in favour of the action. Simonon states that Jones believed Rhodes to be responsible and did not find out until the Rock Hall of Fame induction[when?].
After Jones was sacked, Strummer and Simonon held blind auditions to recruit two new guitarists. Strummer states they auditioned somewhere near 350 guitarists and found Nick in the first batch, Vince in the second.
Cut the Crap
According to guitarist Vince White, the working title of The Clash's last album, released in 1985 was Out of Control. The title was changed by Rhodes shortly before its release. Rhodes also produced the album under the name of 'Jose Unidos'. He co-wrote all of the songs with Strummer.
In 1990, Rhodes relocated from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Georgia where Doug Watts, the lead singer of a black metal band Naked Truth asked him for help. Rhodes brought in a new bass player and rehearsed the band over several months. Rhodes independently produced the album Green with Rage. He then signed the band to Sony Records.
St Martin's incident
In May 2007, Rhodes caused controversy at London's St Martins College, when he was accused of using the word 'niggers' during a speech he was giving about street fashion. In a published interview directly after the event, Rhodes stated that: 'calling me a racist is like calling Margaret Thatcher a Marxist'.
In April 2010, Rhodes also caused controversy at his friend Malcolm McLaren's funeral when he accused Vivienne Westwood of "being part of the Establishment" before going onto the platform to deliver his own eulogy: "If we’re not careful we're going to turn Malcolm into John Lennon, into a saint. Malcolm was no saint."
At the after funeral gathering, Rhodes and Westwood were photographed chatting happily by celebrity photographer Richard Young.
In her recent autobiography, Westwood comments on the funeral saying Rhodes was quite justified in what he said, she was talking too much about herself and her ideas.
He has designed a biker range of T-shirts for Lewis Leathers.
Rhodes has written a trilogy of books.
- Gilbert 2005, p. 81.
- Gilbert 2005, p. 82.
- Letts 2007, p. 50.
- Savage 1991, p. 83.
- Savage 1991, p. 102.
- Strongman 2008, pp. 84-85.
- Lydon 1993, p. 75.
- Lydon 1993, pp. 117-118.
- Gilbert 2005, p. 60.
- The Clash 2008, p. 88.
- Gilbert 2005, p. 78.
- Gilbert 2005, p. 117.
- Adams 2009.
- White 2005, p. 205.
- Vermorel 1987, p. 236.
- G Spot 1993, p. 39.
- Gilbert 2005, p. 286.
- Punknews.org & 1993.
- The Clash 2008, p. 290.
- Gruen 2001, p. 241.
- Gruen 2001, p. 240.
- Gruen 2001, p. 242.
- Salewicz, pp. 373-375.
- Len Righi (1984-04-20). "Joe Strummer tells why the Clash is carrying on". mcall.com. Retrieved 1984-04-20. Check date values in:
- Neil Spencer & James Brown (2006-10-29). "Why the Clash are still Rock Titans". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2006-10-29.
- RiffRaff March1992.
- Sabuhi Mir. "Clash Culture-Central St. Martins". rock feedback.com. Retrieved 2007-05-01.
- Mojo 2007.
- Mirror.co.uk. "Vivienne Westwood in Malcolm McLaren funeral row". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- O'Hagan 2010.
- Westwood & Kelly 2014.
- The Jewish Museum London 2012.
- Clash, The (2008). The Clash. London: Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-84354-788-4.
- Coon, Caroline (1977). 1988: The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion. London: Hawthorn. ISBN 0-8015-6129-9. OCLC 79262599. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- Gilbert, Pat (2005) . Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th ed.). London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1-84513-113-4. OCLC 61177239.
- Gruen, Bob (2001). The Clash Photographs by Bob Gruen. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-903399-34-3.
- Gray, Marcus (2005) . The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (5th revised ed.). London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1-905139-10-1. OCLC 60668626.
- Letts, Don (2007). Culture Clash: Dread Meets Punk Rockers. London: SAF Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-946719-89-6.
- Lydon, John (1993). Rotten:No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-63528-2.
- Savage, Jon (2001) . England's Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock (2nd ed.). London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0571227204.
- Strongman, Phil (2008) . Pretty Vacant: A History of UK Punk (US ed.). Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1-55652-752-7. OCLC 173299117.
- Topping, Keith (2004) . The Complete Clash (2nd ed.). Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1-903111-70-6. OCLC 63129186.
- Vermorel, Fred & Judy (1987) . Sex Pistols The Inside Story (3rd ed.). London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780711-910904.
- Westwood & Kelly, Vivienne & Ian (2014). Vivienne Westwood. London: Picador. ISBN 9781-44-7254126.
- Films and documentaries
Web, journals and magazines
- Adams, Owen (30 March 2009). "Label of Love: 2Tone Records". Culture > Music > Label of love. Guardian.co.uk.
- "The Clash - Super Black Market Clash". Punknews.org.
- Related articles
- Fisher, Judith (March 1992). "Naked Truth". Riff Raff Magazine (Riff Raff).
- Holden & Van Schreven, Michael & Keld (Aug 1993). "Def by Misadventure". G Spot (8) (van Schreven & Westall).
- "Gangsters by The Specials". Songfacts.com.
- "Clash Culture - Central St Martins". RFB.
- "Vivienne Westwood in Malcolm McLaren funeral row". The Daily Mirror. www.mirror.co.uk.
- O'Hagan, Sean (25 April 2010). "The surreal day we laid the old anarchist to rest". The Observer (Guardian.co.uk).
- Pattison, Louis (7 May 2007). "Clash manager's racist outburst a reminder not to get rose-tinted about punk". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- "Bernard Rhodes speaks". Mojo. July 2007. p. 18.
- Righi, Len (20 April 1984). "Joe Strummer tells why the Clash is carrying on". The Morning Call.
- "Ex-Clash manager causes uproar with N-word". CMU Daily - On The Inside. CMU Music Network. 4 May 2007. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "Last chance to see - Entertaining the Nation". News. The Jewish Museum London. 27 January 2012.