It’s late autumn 1977, and the Stranglers are headlining a show in the Midlands. The support comes from the roots reggae band Steel Pulse. They know what to expect from a punk crowd: gobbing, cans being thrown. Steel Pulse are barely into their first number when a huge wad of phlegm shoots from the audience and lands on the hand of bassist Ron “Stepper” McQueen. The band’s nickname for McQueen was “Psycho” and they fully expected him to live up to his name. “We all stared at Ronnie and we stopped playing,” remembers Steel Pulse’s singer, Mykaell Riley. “So there’s this silence onstage, then eventually 4,000 punks went silent.” McQueen didn’t react, however. Instead, Stranglers bassist, Jean-Jacques Burnel, stepped out of the wings, waded into the crowd, identified the culprit, and knocked him out cold. Then he turned to face the crowd.
"He just went, ‘You fucking wankers. You love reggae,’" laughs Riley.
Roots manoeuvre – Dave Simpson on what happened when reggae and punk went head to head in the UK