Aberdeen, Scotland (March 12, 2018)—Michael “Mickey” Foote, producer and engineer of The Clash’s eponymous debut and numerous singles, died in Aberdeen, Scotland March 2 after a short, undisclosed illness. He was 66.
While he had production credits with acts like Ellen Foley, Sex Pistols and Vic Goddard & Subway Sect, Foote was instrumental in developing the sound of the early Clash and, as a result, is widely credited with creating the template of the Punk Rock sound.
Born in Aberdeen September 8, 1951 in Aberdeen, Foote attended Newport College of Art (later part of the University of Wales), where he met visiting singer/guitarist John Mellor one day in the student union. Mellor later adopted the stage name Joe Strummer and the two reunited in London when Strummer headed The 101ers, bringing on Foote to handle the band’s live sound. When the Clash formed and subsequently went on the road opening for Sex Pistols on its chaotic 1976 Anarchy Tour of the UK, Foote was on hand to mix the proceedings.
Soon he was drafted to produce The Clash’s first demos, capturing the band’s on-stage energy on tape; that in turn led to producing the band’s debut album, which contained incendiary tracks like “London’s Burning” and “White Riot.”
As legend has it, Foote was fired by the band in early 1978 after the stand-alone single, “Clash City Rockers,” recorded at a tumultuous time in the band’s history, when guitarist/vocalist Mick Jones and bassist Paul Simonon were only speaking to each other via Strummer. After the single was finished, manager Bernie Rhodes declared the final mix was “a bit flat,” so Foote used varispeed to pick up the pace, which also raised the music up a semitone. Strummer and Jones were in Jamaica at the time, however, and didn’t get to hear the change until the single was released. Furious, they sacked Foote, and virtually every re-release of the song since has featured the original-speed version. Eventually, Foote and the band got back on cordial terms and Foote became involved with numerous Clash archival releases over the years.
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If The Clash was in part about standing up to authority, Foote posessed some of that spirit, too. Decades later, after he had moved back to Aberdeenshire, he became the face of a protest movement in the mid-2000s against Donald Trump, who began building a golf resort with a hotel and numerous houses near Foote’s home.
Upset about the damage that the campus would cause to the coastal area and its wildlife, Foote led the Sustainable Aberdeenshire movement in a legal fight that continues to this day, some of which was captured in a 2011 documentary, You’ve Been Trumped.
Due to Foote’s efforts, the local council will not allow the resort’s houses to be built until its clubhouse and hotel are completed. According to Scotland’s The Herald, Foote believed Trump planned to build 600 houses first in order to pay for the course and hotel.
Foote is survived by his partner of 30 years, Kym Swindells; his sister Alison Duncan; and nieces and nephews. Swindells and Duncan have vowed to continue Foote’s fight against the Trump development.