Look back at Sheffield’s contribution to punk culture – from the Clash, the Sex Pistols and The Cramps

Siouxsie performs at West Street's Limit. Photo: Pete Hill
Siouxsie performs at West Street's Limit. Photo: Pete Hill

It has gone down in history as one of the most famous gigs ever to take place in Sheffield – despite only about 50 people witnessing it. The live debut of the Clash took place at Snig Hill’s Black Swan on July 4, 1976.

The show at the venue often referred to as the Mucky Duck (it became the Boardwalk in the 1990s) could just have easily become a footnote in the annals of Sheffield’s music history. But within weeks the Clash – together with largely unknown headliners the Sex Pistols - were making history as two of the main protagonists of the nascent punk scene.

Clash bassist Paul Simonon said: “The day the Clash started really was when we played The Mucky Duck with the Pistols, which was great. It was the first time that I had ever played on stage.”

In the audience was Clive Porter, who was eager to find some new up-and-coming bands. He said: “We were always on the lookout for new music and I’d already previously caught the 101ers [frontman Joe Strummer’s last band] in Sheffield. That night this scruffy bloke shuffled in our direction and I expected him to start begging as he looked homeless. It was actually Joe Strummer wandering around telling people they were about to play.”

Decades on and the Clash, despite splitting up in the mid-eighties, are still one of most revered rock bands on the planet – and it all started in Sheffield.

The gig – and three others from the iconic club Limit that stood on West Street from 1978 until 1991 – are celebrated in a range of merchandise by the city’s Dirty Stop Outs.

‘I Swear I Was There’ is the name given to the limited edition collection.

American new wave band the B-52’s chose the Limit for their UK debut on July 25, 1979. Q Magazine referred to it as “one of the best gigs of all time”.

The Limit originally opened as a punk club in 1978. It was a massive hit from the day it opened its doors.

The first artist of national note was Siouxsie & the Banshees. Another shirt marks that iconic night.

Last but not least are the Cramps. The American rockers were at the top of their game when they performed. Their incendiary brand of horror/goth rock was taking the country by storm and local audiences lapped it up.

Though the Clash at the Black Swan will forever be etched into the history books as the site of the band’s public debut it’s likely they’d chose to forget some of the reactions.

The verdict of one “anonymous music lover, Sheffield” on the NME letters page a few days later said: “Clash were just a cacophonous barrage of noise… It’s enough to turn you on to Demis Roussos”.

All T-shirts are available for purchase at:

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