Eye Spy Glasgow: Dukes Bar was calling Clash fans everywhere

So how many of you musicos were there - at Dukes Bar on May 16, 1985?

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Maybe the date doesn't ring a bell but the venue certainly should.

After all it's not every evening that one of the greatest punk rock bands descends on a small Glasgow pub for a busking session.

But it happened - and Dukes Bar at the corner of Old Dumbarton Road and Lumsden Street has the evidence to prove it.

A plaque was fixed to the wall of the pub a few years ago. It reads: "Dukes Bar. Live gig. The Clash. May 16th 1985 'Busking tour'. 41 Old Dumbarton Road."

It seems utterly bizarre that Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon et al should pitch up at what was essentially a street corner pub.

Word of the free gig naturally spread like wildfire and fans turned up in their hordes - pity the poor bar staff that night.

So why did it happen? Rewind the clock to 1985 and the punk music scene was in decline. The Clash were once at the top of the punk tree but their best days were behind them.

Strummer decided to take the band on a busking tour of the UK - it was to all intents and purposes a farewell tour.

It started off in Nottingham and the band headed north through Leeds, York, Gateshead, Sunderland and Edinburgh before arriving in Glasgow.

They played jam sessions on street corners, small pubs, student union cafes.

When they got to Glasgow it was no different. On May 16 they played the Rock Garden pub on Queen Street before moving on to Dukes.

One story goes that the band was supposed to play at Glasgow University but the gig was cancelled by police because of a fear of overcrowding.

So the owner of Dukes, Alan Fullegar, offered to pay their taxi fare to Old Dumbarton Road if they would play at his bar.

It worked, the band turned up and played a 45-minute session that would give the pub an unlikely place in Glasgow music history.

The following day the Clash played at the Vic Cafe Bar in Glasgow School of Art, then the Fixx Bar on Miller Street.

Glasgow was where the the busking tour ended - and for the Clash it was something of a last hurrah. The band split up the following year.

As for Dukes, it's been through a couple of incarnations since then but is now a smart bar serving a good pint and with a permanent reminder of the day the Clash came to town.

Arts and Entertainment

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