England 1978. The mood is of disillusion, economic decline, political failure. Fascists demonstrate in the street. The left-wing clash with the police (not the band!) and
Fascists demonstrate in the street. The left-wing clash with the police (not the band!) and The Clash take their struggle into the concert hall, spokesmen for a generation of despised, unemployed and aimless youth.
Ray Gange, unemployed and 19, earns beer money at nights working in a Soho sex shop. He tries for a job with Joe Strummer, vocalist of The Clash, but is turned down.
He counters Joe’s revolutionary ideas with his own experience of the class system – “left-wing is gonna fuck everybody up” – but at a Rock against Racism concert he demonstrates his loyalty to The Clash.
After White Riot he seizes the microphone and screams at the crowd to demand “more Clash”. Order is quickly restored by the left-wing stewards and Ray is thrown off the stage, his point about political control seemingly proved.
His reward is a job as a roadie on the next Clash tour, overseen by chief roadie, Johnny Greenglasses.
On tour at the huge Glasgow Apollo, the young teenage audience is brutalised by over-zealous bouncers, spoiling for a fight. Ray is beaten up and Joe and Paul are arrested as they leave the concert hall.
The tour continues through Scotland and Ray questions and counsels Joe about his political aims. Meanwhile, in London, black youths loiter around a South London bus stop. They are under observation on CCTV video monitoring and the political climate has hardened in the run-up to an election.
The Clash appear in court on a trivial and expensive charge of shooting racing pigeons and spend time in a recording studio. There, roadies Johnny and Baker laugh and reminisce about Ray – who is now back working in the sex shop.
As the band become increasingly successful, Ray drifts embarrassingly around their orbit.
Their stage songs have become slick and embittered and Ray goes after them on a new tour on a last desperate mission, jobless, to face the music.
Rude Boy sets out to make a generation-defining statement about aimlessness and ennui but succeeds only in capturing a legendary group at the peak of its powers.
Nicky ‘Topper’ Headon
Johnny, Clash road manager
Baker, Clash roadie