Kathy DiTondo’s I Was A Teen Guitarist 4 The Clash, The Driving Force Behind Punk Aid 2017 & Teen Clash Awards

As you know Skatronixxx prides itself on helping the indie community from indie comics to indie music in a bid to get more indie content noticed. A few months ago I met Kathy DiTondo via Twitter, Kathy is the driving force behind Punk Aid 2017 and the Teen Clash Indie Award, she is also the co-creator and author of  “I Was A Teen Guitarist 4 The Clash” along with Keith Levene, she is also passionate about giving indie artists a voice over mainstream content which in my opinion is oversaturating the industry.

Very little content in the mainstream is original these days with the exception of a few, the airwaves are being flooded by covers so it is refreshing to have met Kathy and become a part of the indie community to spread the indie original goodness of these incredibly talented artists. I have recently purchased Kathy and Keith Levene’s book “I Was A Teen Guitarist 4 The Clash” and I highly recommend you buy it, not only is it an awesome read, by purchasing it you will be helping a charity close to Kathy’s heart, mental health research.

Below is a little more on Kathy, The Clash and Punk Aid and what is driving her passion for all things indie and mental health research

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Kathy DiTondo (Right) With Her Mom (Left)

My name is Kathy and I was Keith Levene’s collaborator/partner for approximately 5 years starting in 2011.

I co-created or created a number of Clash and PiL related items including books, music, merchandise which I am donating for an upcoming fundraiser along with other memorabilia. All proceeds from the benefit will go to fund cutting edge mental health research. The reason why I selected this particular charity is two-fold.

First, I believe the stigma associated with mental illness must end. Mental illness is a medical condition just as cancer or heart disease is. Yet unlike people who are afflicted with these other conditions individuals who are diagnosed with mental illness are very frequently ostracized. This is just wrong and only adds in my opinion to the burden.

The second more personal reason is because I lost my beloved sister Linda DiTondo last year and she suffered her entire life from mental illness. It is in her memory I devote my life’s work toward mental health charities.

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Linda DiTondo

My Beautiful Sister Linda who was plagued with mental illness her whole life and waged a valiant fight to the end. I was in Europe involved in activities related to Commercial Zone 2014, Meeting Joe & Teen Clash during the final months of her life – flew home just in time to see her once before she passed away.
One of the first projects I pitched to Mr. Levene during the course collaboration was a project known as Diary of a Non-Punk Rocker which evolved into I Was a Teenage Guitarist for the Clash and Meeting Joe: Joe Strummer, the Clash and Me.
Teen Clash product line.

For many years Mr. Levene seemed to turn his back on his rich legacy on the original punk scene. He frequently said things like “punk was the greatest excuse for being useless on the planet.” I helped persuade him to think differently and embrace the artistic, musical, and cultural revolution known as that first wave of British punk that started on the streets of West London in 1975-1976 and eventually went global.

Mr. Levene was at the center of this incredible scene embodying youthful exuberance as a skate-boarding pinball-playing guitar virtuoso. As I started asking questions, this amazing fun and uplifting story popped off the pages as I typed them.

I also drew inspiration from other punks of that era, some of whom did not necessarily play guitar but were free-thinkers and completely independent such Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva and especially Jay Adams of the legendary Z-Boys skateboarding team.

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That was Teen Clash.

Teen Clash 001 book it doesn’t get more indie or punk than this!!
Meeting Joe is a continuation of that story and focuses heavily on Joe Strummer and continues to talk about the birth of British punk and the start of one of the most important bands of that era The Clash. There’s a really funny story about how Joe to leave the pub band he was with the 101ers for the Clash – I’ll let you read about that for yourself!

To my knowledge, this was the first time Mr. Levene had spoken about his experiences to the extent he did so there’s lots of unknown things shared about those incredible times.

Writing those books was a great experience for me. They are chock-full of humorous vignettes. There are a few sad parts but for the most part it’s uplifting.

Another of my collaborations with Mr. Levene is the Commercial Zone 2014 project. After he left the Clash, he was involved with the Flowers of Romance for a while with his close mate Sid Vicious amongst others. His next major commitment however was to Public Image Limited – or PiL – another hugely influential project oftentimes called the first post-punk band.

Post Punk Years Cover & 004 of Commercial Zone 2014 both are in the collection as is 001 Commercial Zone 2014.

He left PiL during the recording of what was to have been PiL’s fourth studio album Commercial Zone in the summer of 1983 just as the band was to embark on a tour of Japan. I interviewed Mr. Levene at length for a book entitled The Post Punk Years.

Mr. Levene always wanted to finish the Commercial Zone project. I helped convince him that 2014 was the time to do it. A successful crowd-funding campaign followed on the Indiegogo platform. Thanks to the generosity of the campaign’s backers, it hit almost 200% of the initial target. There was great demand for the perks that were offered during the crowdfunding such as the Teen Clash books and custom covers.

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LINK TO COMMERCIAL ZONE 2014 INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/keith-levene-s-commercial-zone-london-1976-project#/

It was in Prague that I persuaded him to offer the Commercial Zone 1983 albums as a perk. I found a vendor who purchased the original albums from him in New York a man by the name of “Crackers” who owned a record shop there. He still had a stock of those albums and I ordered them. 2014 was the first time I believe since 1984 that Mr. Levene made those covers again.

The custom covers to both CZ1983 and CZ2014 were created there in addition to the music which is absolutely spectacular.

LINK TO ARTICLE ABOUT COMMERCIAL ZONE 2014
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/apr/22/public-image-ltd-pil-keith-levene-crowdfund-relaunch-commercial-zone-album

Another of the many gifts that came out of that project is that Mr. Levene recorded ‘What’s My Name’, a tune he originally wrote on stage at the Black Swan pub, Sheffield, in July 1976. Although the Clash performed it many times during that summer of 1976 up to his last show with the Clash at the Roundhouse in September, he never recorded it – that is, not until he did so as part of the Commercial Zone 2014 sessions in the White Room which was built on the fourth floor at Prague.

Both Teen Clash and Meeting Joe are available on Amazon as downloads. I recommend starting with Teen Clash

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I Was A Teen Guitarist book for auction in aid of Mental Health Research

In terms of what punk means to me – I absolutely love the DIY spirit that is/was central to punk’s rich legacy. A great idea, a can-do attitude and a commitment to do it yourself is fulfilling and empowering.

All the projects were done completely independently: From conception of the ideas through financing through development through delivery. If we could do what we did anyone who has a good idea for a book or music or art or merchandising or a café or clothing or technology or a consulting business can realize their dreams too. That I believe is the ultimate lesson of DIY.

I am also proud to tell you that Skatronixxx.com has been nominated for Indie Media of the Year for the second annual Teen Clash Awards which will be announced  at Punk Aid 2017 in London, I speak for the whole team when I say we are humbled and honored to receive this nomination, Thank You!

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