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Photo by Christopher Reyes

The Memphis Flyer, December 7, 2017

Rock Against Racism Rises Again
by Alex Greene

For those who came of age in the first blush of punk rock, before it was codified into a “sound,” the movement known as “Rock Against Racism” was a clarion call of the new aesthetic. Even as it coalesced into a series of concerts in London’s East End, it sprang from a broader social movement that challenged and inspired bands to inject more political awareness into their sound. Nonetheless, it certainly was triggered by a musical event: Eric Clapton, during a 1976 show in Birmingham, launched into an anti-immigrant rant and endorsed U.K. ultra-nationalist Enoch Powell. It was the death knell, in a way, for any claim that classic rock had on the music’s original rebellious spirit. Taking up the mantle, and filled with disgust at the entitlement that Clapton expressed, was a new guard of punks and activists.