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When Robert De Niro took The Clash out clubbing in New York City

When The Clash came to New York City for a residency at the iconic Bond International Casino in 1981, many people were excited out of their minds. In fact, more than double the capacity of the venue had tickets for the show which almost resulted in the shutting down of the club. Luckily, it was ultimately opened up again for one of the most memorable shows in its history.

During their time in New York, The Clash had a lot of extraordinary encounters. From influencing the underground artistic landscape of the city to dining with film stars, the band took their reputation to levels previously unknown. While remembering the momentous event, many journalists, musicians and other artists came together to tell stories about The Clash’s visit to the Big Apple.

Joe Ely, a singer-songwriter closely associated with the honky-tonk movement, revealed that the entire event surrounding The Clash was a bonafide cultural phenomenon, not just because of the electric shows, but also due to the fact that the band toured the entire city. According to Ely, most of the band hung out at the Gramercy Park Hotel but Joe Strummer was particularly fond of the famous Chelsea Hotel because of its rich and varied history.

Journalist Chris Salewicz, while talking about The Clash’s adventures in New York, remembered running into Martin Scorsese and his favourite star, Robert De Niro, who claimed that they were huge fans. Salewicz added that their meeting with the two icons was how The Clash ended up appearing in a fleeting cameo in Scorsese’s brilliant film The King of Comedy where they were referred to as street trash.

Photographer Pennie Smith even recalled that Scorsese was using an oxygen cylinder at the time due to some asthma-related complications. “I took a picture of De Niro talking to Strummer,” Smith added, confirming De Niro’s obsession with the band. “He was just as much a fan of Joe’s as the other way round. It was a sort of parallel universe.”

Scorsese and De Niro went out with The Clash on multiple occasions, even dining with Isabella Rossellini who was Scorsese’s wife at the time. According to an artist named Pearl Harbour who was there with them, this surreal exchange happened: “Joe said to Isabella: ‘Does everybody tell you that you look just like Ingrid Bergman?’ She said, ‘Yeah, that’s my mother.'”

De Niro took everyone out clubbing and even provided everyone involved with free boxing tickets for very fancy seats. After that, the actor remained friends with the band and even went to London soon after that to visit the members along with Christopher Walken.

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