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Delphine Blue: Punk Riot

Delphine Blue and her memento of a rock 'n' roll riot (photo courtesy of the author)

Delphine Blue and her memento of a rock 'n' roll riot (photo courtesy of the author)

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Are your band T-shirts a part of your pandemic work/weekend/constant wardrobe? In our new "Concert TBTee" series every Thursday, we're asking the FUV airstaff to dig through their drawers for the concert and band T-shirts that mean the most to them and why. Weekend host Delphine Blue recalls a very punk night in the East Village:

Back in the early Eighties, I was a DJ at The Ritz on East 11th Street. It was an amazing time and I got to see every band I ever wanted to and plenty others.

I guess one of the most historic nights was May 15, 1981, coincidentally the one-year anniversary of the club. Public Image Ltd was booked last minute to play and tickets went on sale the day of the show at 4 p.m., a particularly rainy day that saw a sold-out crowd waiting to enter at 10 p.m.

The Ritz had a huge video screen which was the size of the proscenium arch of the stage, as this was the advent of music videos ("Video Killed the Radio Star") and someone had the idea to have the band play behind the screen with images projected onto the screen.

PiL came on around 1 or 2 a.m. Everything happened deep into the night in those days. The audience was not having this business of the band playing behind the screen and as they became increasingly agitated, John Lydon began to taunt them and it became the now legendary PiL Riot at The Ritz.

The crowd tore the video screen down. I was watching from the safety of the DJ booth when a Heineken bottle flew by the head of the other DJ who worked there. We crouched below the turntables. After that night, the club did not serve beer in bottles.

This PiL shirt is a souvenir of the night. I cut the sleeves off because everybody cut up their T-shirts in 1981. Probably still do!