Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Minutes With Clem Burke of Blondie

Clem Burke is an original member of Blondie, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and, although Clem is too modest to say it, he is undoubtedly one of rock's drumming greats alongside Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, Charlie Watts, John Bonham and Ringo Starr.

Photo: Mick Rock

Q1. What was the first record you bought and what effect did it have on you?

It was probably "I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND / I SAW HERE STANDING THERE" by THE BEATLES. Like everyone else of my generation, seeing the Beatles on the ED SULLIVAN T.V. SHOW , Feb. 1964, was a life changing experience and would go on to have a profound affect on my life. Anytime I Recieve an award, Like being inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, I always make sure to thank John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Today's pop culture role models just do not stand up to what the Beatles represented and stood for.

Q2. When did you start playing drums and what influenced you to do that?

I started playing around the same time I saw the Beatles on T.V. I'm left handed so although I wanted to play guitar I had a difficult time learning to play right handed. I do play a right handed drum kit and coincidently I've come to find out that Ringo Starr is also left handed and plays a right handed kit. The British musical invasion of the 60's really inspired me, groups like the WHO,the Kinks, the Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones,the Dave Clark Five are my rocknroll roots.

Q3. How has down town New York changed for creative people since the 70's? I think the energy in NYC is just unbelievable, you can feel it everywhere.

A. The city has changed, in many ways for the better. When I lived on the Bowery it was obviously a very downtrodden place, now it's one of the chicest neighborhoods in NYC. Artists and musicians will always be attracted to the inspiration the city gives, it will always be a muse for us.

Q4. Do you think that file sharing via the Internet means that music can't develop away from the public eye anymore?

A. Life is more immediate now, things seem to happen alot quicker, that has do do with the internet. Everyone is famous for 15 minutes ,as someone once said. There will always be creativity and creative outlets.File sharing is part of the new media.

Q5. Give me a really 'off the wall' anecdote. Something that not many people will know about. It could be about the early days of Blondie or even before that.

A. I'll never forget the time I was touring with Iggy Pop around 1980. We were opening for the Rolling Stones at the Siver Dome in Detroit, Iggy's home town. 72,000 people indoors, no soundcheck. The arena felt like something out of the Gladiator movie. Right before we go onstage Iggy decides he's gonna where a pair of panty hose for trousers, as soon as he walks on stage, the lights hit him and he looks like he's naked from the waist down.The crowd just went nuts throwing anything and everything at us, THIS WAS BEFORE THE DAYS OF METAL DETECTORS and security checks at concerts. The promoter, Bill Graham thought it was so funny that he made the roadies go out after we played to collect everything that was thrown and before the Stones played Bill came out with a list and read everything that was thrown at us then ladies and gentlemen, THE ROLLING STONES!!

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