This letter from the Clash’s A&R man in 1977 explaining why their first album was shelved in the U.S. is a must-read

There’s no point in denying it: The Clash are one of the most important bands in not only punk history but rock history (and in this editor’s humble opinion, they’re the best punk band of all time—sorry, the Ramones). But there was a time when the world didn’t bow at the feet of Joe Strummer & Co., and that time was 1977, the year when CBS Records released their self-titled debut in the U.K. but not in the United States. Punk fan Paul Dougherty wrote a (presumably fiery) letter to Epic Records, the band’s U.S. label, demanding to know why the album would not be released Stateside. Amazingly, Dougherty received a response from Epic Records Director of A&R Bruce Harris, who at the time had worked with everyone from Gordon Lightfoot to Don McLean, who delivered a surprisingly in-depth (and relatively angry) explanation as to why The Clash was not coming out in America. You can find the entire letter below, but here are some great outtakes:

“From my experience in the music business, it seems clear to me that the Clash’s album would fail miserably… I believe the Clash can make better records than their first album and those are the records we should choose to bring to the American marketplace.”

Harris was right; the Clash would go on to make better records, most notably 1979’s incredible London Calling. But Dougherty was right, too: The Clash became the biggest import title to America in 1977, selling a reported 100,000-plus copies without proper domestic distribution. (The album was finally properly released in the U.S. in 1979, right in between Give ‘Em Enough Rope and London Calling.)