Remembering and reflecting on the 'Battle of Lewisham' in August 1977, when a mobilisation by the far-right National Front in South East London was met by mass opposition

Wednesday 8 August 2007

Soundtrack to '77

1977 was a critical year in the history of popular music and related sub-cultures, the year that punk, reggae and disco went over overground in the UK. If there was a soundrack to Lewisham '77 , what would be on it?

In There Ain't No Black in The Union Jack, Paul Gilroy mentions that Junior Murvin's Police and Thieves (famously covered by The Clash) 'had blared out from a speaker dangled from an upstairs window when anti-fascist demonstrators attacked the National Front march in Lewisham during August 1977.

This may be the same speaker recalled by Red Saunders (of Rock Against Racism) in Dave Renton's account of The Battle of Lewisham: 'Red Saunders was part of the crowd who joined both the first and second demonstrations. "What I really remember is that there were all these Christians and Communists, telling us to go home. Most people stayed. But we were all just milling about, when this old black lady, too old to march, came out on her balcony. She put out her speakers, as loud as they could, playing Get up, stand up. That did it for me".'

Tom Robinson, now a BBC reporter, also seems to have been there on the day. The Tom Robinson Band were soon to become Rock Against Racism stalwarts and hit the charts with 2-4-6-8 Motorway and Glad to Be Gay. A lesser known Deptford punk band, The Homosexuals, formed soon after August 13th, some of the members apparently meeting for the first time on the demonstration.

Then-New Musical Express journalists Tony Parsons and Julie Birchill were there too, the former telling The Guardian : 'Parsons dates their relationship from the Lewisham riot in 1977 - they were there together. "I gave her a flickknife and my telephone number. I think she threw away the number and kept the knife."

1 comment:

freedomfighter said...

I was there. Took 2 fascists down but did not get involved in the riot in lewisham town centre with the police.