It’s ex-Clash bassist Paul Simonon and Havana 3 A.M.: Do you know where your children are?

By on May 15, 2018

We’re sharing this two-hour “as aired” syndicated 1991 “Mother’s Day Weekend Special” a second time — you might have missed it the first go ’round, right? — in order to direct your attention again to Night Flight’s rarely-seen video profile of Havana 3 A.M.

Watch snippets from this spaghetti western-influenced band’s music videos for “Death in the Afternoon,” “Hey Amigo,” “The Hardest Game,” “Blue Gene Vincent,” and “Reach the Rock,” as well as interviews with ex-Clash bassist Paul Simonon, lead singer/guitarist Nigel Dixon and guitarist Gary Myrick on Night Flight Plus.

HAVANA3AM2

“It’s Havana 3 A.M.,” says Night Flight’s Pat Prescott in her intro to their video profile.

“Do you know where your children are? Maybe they’re listening to the Clash, the phenomenal ’70s punk rock group whose single ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ is currently in the Top Ten in Sweden and the Netherlands.”

HAVANA3AM6

That’s a strange way to start off the segment, we agree, but actually it fits right in with the weirdo theme of this syndicated early ’90s episode, which features frenetic editing and lots of mind-warping smash cuts into ostrobogulous animation segments, oddball short films and various video mash-ups, “as aired” with lots of weirdo late-night “900-number” commercials.

The episode, as you might guess from its title, is mainly centered around the “Mothers of Punk” segment, which takes a gander at music videos by Patti Smith, the PretendersChrissie Hynde, X’s outspoken frontlady Exene Cervenka, and the always-mesmerizing Nina Hagen.

HAVANA3AM16

When the Clash broke up in 1984, Ms. Prescott tells us that the handsome, pompadoured chisel-jawed Simonon — once voted as the world’s hunkiest man in Playgirl magazine, he also modeled for a Laura Ashley calendar along with Viv Albertine from the Slits — ended up leaving the world of rock behind to pursue oil painting in London and New York.

Simonon tells us he ended up riding motorcycles and suggested to Nigel Dixon (ex-lead singer for UK rockabilly outfit Whirlwind) that they sell their Triumphs and get a couple of old Harley-Davidsons.

HAVANA3AM15

They embarked on a Che Guevara-inspired motorcycle trip through the Southwestern U.S., ended up in El Paso, Texas, and somewhere in their travels they crossed paths with the Dallas-born guitar rocker Gary Myrick.

Read more about Havana 3 A.M. below.

IDevices-For-NF-web

Hey! Do you have a Night Flight Plus subscription?

We’re offering up original uncut air masters of Night Flight programming from the video vaults of the 1980s TV show, as well as provocative new selections from the world of music, documentaries, animation, cult films and more. Sign up today!



HAVANA3AM11

After first moving to Austin, Texas, and replacing a then-unknown Stevie Ray Vaughan in Kracker Jack, Gary Myrick eventually ended up in L.A., where his power pop band the Figures were signed to Epic Records in 1979.

Simonon says he doubts that he’d heard any of Myrick’s music in England (Dixon questions whether it was even sold there), which is strange, since the self-titled Gary Myrick & the Figures album had been released in 1980 as part of Epic’s “nice price” budget LP series.

The same series had featured the Clash’s 1978 album Give ‘Em Enough Rope too (making them labelmates).

HAVANA3AM3

Myrick had a moderate rock radio hit with “She Talks in Stereo,” one of two songs later featured in the 1983 cult hit, Valley Girl.

After releasing a moodier second album, 1981’s Living in a Movie, and an EP, 1983’s Language — featuring “Guitar Talk, Love and Drums” one of the videos previewed here — Myrick disbanded the Figures for a solo career.

He also ended up writing four songs for John Waite’s solo album, No Brakes, one of which was Waite’s #1 1984 hit, “Missing You.”

HAVANA3AM7

Myrick knocked around L.A., earning a paycheck as a touring guitarist and session player until he crossed paths with Simonon and Dixon in 1991.

They weren’t really all that interested in music, and mainly bonded over a passion for riding motorcycles and painting, but ended up deciding to write some songs together, saying “Let’s give it a week.”

HAVANA3AM12

Musically, they all wanted to branch out into other genres besides rockabilly and punk, terrain they’d already covered.

It turns out they had a shared interest in exploring electric Texas blues, Latin and Mexican music, surf instrumentals by the Ventures and spaghetti western music, all musical ingredients which Simonon likens to a “musical travelogue.”

“It’s like sitting on a motorcycle and goin’ for a long drive to various countries.”

HAVANA3AM9

“The name Havana 3 A.M.,” says Simonon, “we actually stole it from an old record by a guy called Perez Prado.”

“I’d been collecting his records for quite a few years, and I had a compilation tape of Latin music that I put on a cassette, just to carry with me to play, and I called it ‘Havana 3 A.M.'”

Havana 3 A.M. — also including drummer Travis Williams — ended up touring the UK and Japan, where they recorded and initially released their debut album before it finally found a home at I.R.S. Records, who issued the album domestically in the spring of 1991.

HAVANA3AM4

Unfortunately, Havana 3 A.M. didn’t garner much interest in what they were doing, even drawing a scorpion’s sting of a review from L.A. Times rock critic Richard Cromelin, who reviewed their live L.A. debut at the Roxy (“LIght’s Out for Havana 3 A.M.,” April 18, 1991), who wrote:

“It’s hard to imagine a more drastic transition than bassist Paul Simonon’s: from the Clash, a band that mattered whatever it did, to Havana 3 A.M., a band that can’t find a reason for being, no matter how hard it tries.”

Ouch.

HAVANA3AM5

After Simonon left to pursue his art career, and Dixon died from cancer in April ’93, Myrick put Havana 3 A.M. back together with new members, releasing Texas Glitter & Tombstone Tales in 1996, but he eventually returned to his solo career.

Watch Night Flight’s “Havana 3 A.M. video profile” on Night Flight Plus.

HAVANA3AM1

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.