Photo credit: D. Harvey


Clem Burke fondly looks back at an encounter with his good friend and Blondie co-writer, Ronnie Toast, in this exclusive excerpt from his unpublished autobiography.

Ronnie Toast and Clem Burke at Clem’s Christopher Street apartment in 1977. Credit: D. Harvey.

It’s October 1980 and I’m in my loft on East 21st St. watching a video tape of every appearance of the Rolling Stones on the Ed Sullivan Show. Ed,  of course, was the TV personality who brought everyone from Elvis to the Beatles into America’s living rooms.

My guest this afternoon is one Jimmy Osterberg, better known to his public as Iggy Pop. We are discussing the possibility of me doing a short tour with him. The tour will include a few dates opening for the above mentioned Stones. Speaking of stones, all of a sudden there seems to be some being hurled at my front widow. I look out the window and see my old pal from the Club 82 days, Ronnie Toast. Ronnie is yelling, “Clem, you motherfucker! – Open the door! I need some money!” Usually when this happens I just run downstairs and hand him some cash and off he goes.  But today is a special day because if there’s any bigger Iggy fan in NYC than Ronnie,  I haven’t met him.  I mean, some years later, this guy will get on a bus with crutches, after having had both his legs removed, to see Iggy play a New York show.  I decide to let Ronnie in.

Ronnie Toast by Chris Stein

Soon enough Ronnie is knocking on the big factory door that is the entrance to my loft. You can imagine the look on his face when he sees who I’m having afternoon tea with. Ronnie immediately goes into a spot-on Iggy impersonation circa Pop’s Idiot record . This obviously struck the wrong chord with Iggy.  He picks up his coat and runs out the door, leaving his scarf behind. I still have the scarf.


R.I.P. Ronnie Toast –  Co-writer on Blondie’s, “Rifle Range,” and “Cautious Lip.” He also wrote the liner notes on the back of Blondie’s eponymous debut album.