The ‘Secret’ Sessions – Mike Laye

Shooting The Clash

Mike Laye remembers the day he got a call from Clash manager, Bernie Rhodes, saying, ‘Can you keep a secret? We’ve sacked Mick and we need to do a photo shoot for the press.’

Mike had known The Clash since 1976; he promoted the second and third gigs they ever did as Director of the ICA Theatre in London and worked with Bernie Rhodes at Rehearsal Rehearsals for a while, before finally settling into a career as a photographer.

Now he was being asked to photograph a version of The Clash that numbered just Paul and Joe. He recalls that, while Paul was his usual straight-forward, positive self, Joe was edgy, tired and stressed that day.

Mike kept the secret, as promised: ‘One of the best kept secrets in Rock and Roll, as it turns out – and for four whole weeks!’

Soon he was asked do two more sessions with the newly recruited replacement band members. ‘I found it really disquieting,’ he says. ‘Partly, I felt sort of disloyal to Mick, but I also got this feeling that Joe was being somehow manipulated, he seemed distant, not the Joe I knew.’

In retrospect Mike believes that Strummer was suffering real torment and mental anguish. ‘I should have said, come on Joe, leave it, you’ve done your bit, it’s over, let’s get out of here … I should have, but … we just got on with the job.’

The photos in this book are from the ‘secret shoot’ and the two subsequent sessions. They have never been published before.

Check out today’s ‘Pic of the Day’!


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