When art hero Billy Childish released his “Thatcher’s Children” pastiche/tribute/piss-take to the tune of The Clash’s “London Calling” back in 2008, probably the last thing he thought he would get would be a disgruntled letter from a conservative Clash fan, offended by the way Childish supposedly misrepresented the politics of the notoriously left-wing group. But (apparently) he did receive such a letter and it came from a legal representative of the Universal Music Group. At the end of an otherwise ordinary cease and desist letter, the UMe attorney just couldn’t resist adding the following clueless coda:
On a personal note as a fan of The Clash may i point out that your illegal use of the music of London Calling politicises the original tune in a way never intended by members of the group.
I appreciate that in its formative years The Clash may have been perceived as “anti-establishment” but the anti-right wing message contained in the lyric of Mr Chyldish is both insulting to the memory of Baroness Thatcher and President Reagan, and surely a sentiment that the mature songsmith Strummer would never have condoned. Such association could also jeopordise future commercial interest in London Calling by corporations who both fund and support politics that you misrepresent and hold up to ridicule, thereby depriving his family of income.
Wrong ‘em, boyo! I mean how much more wrong could this child of Thatcher possible be? Surely if Joe Strummer had outlived the Iron Lady, David Cameron would have asked him to speak at her funeral! Afterwards they could kick back at Strummerville!
To commemorate this stupidity of this “Clash fan,” Billy Childish is releasing a limited edition box set of “Thatcher’s Children” featuring a “God Save Margaret Thatcher” poster image he did in collaboration with Sex Pistols artist Jamie Reid and a sleeve that, ahem, strongly alludes to Pennie Smith’s iconic London Calling cover photo of Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar (the lettering on that was inspired by an Elvis cover, so it’s not like there wasn’t already a precedent for this kind of thing. Quite a long precedent!)
Childish is also including a lithograph of this classically clueless letter from the Tory nincompoop at UMe, who deserves this disrespect, every drop of it… You can order it from L-13. You can also read the full letter there.
Below: Even better than the original?