Back in 1977, New Yorker and eventual punk rock documentarian Paul J. Dougherty wrote a letter “filled with righteous punk-rock indignation” to Epic Records demanding to know why the Clash’s debut record was not going to be released in the United States.
In November of that year, Dougherty received a colorful reply from Epic’s East Coast director of A&R, Bruce Harris, which basically explained that, from a production point of view, the album sounded like shit and the Sex Pistols were already tasked with breaking punk in America.
A few months ago, Dougherty posted a scan of the letter on his Punk Before Punk blog, and it’s a pretty incredible read. This week, the letter has started popping up on social media channels (bless the internet) and you can read it in its entirety below. It does really feel like a piece of history, and even includes a nice zing at the Dead Boys.
“Really amazing letter and amazing that he wrote back at all,” Dougherty writes in the post. “Hat’s off to you Bruce, The Clash did well in the USA and thanks for writing back to a young punk:).”
We finally got the Clash’s debut album via Epic Records in 1979, when it was released with a modified track listing — but not before it became the best-selling import of all time in the United States.
Cheers to Dougherty for posting this letter, and a h/t to Thom Valicenti for unearthing the post earlier today.