Van Halen received an upfront sum of $1 million to headline the 1983 US Festival. It was then upped to $1.5 million after it was discovered that David Bowie was to be paid $1 million. Van Halen had a clause in their contract that they would be paid more than any other act performing at the festival. In contrast, The Clash refused to play unless some donations were made to charities or other such noble causes by Wozniak and some of the other major bands. Before the Clash began their set, they made angry comments about the barrio conditions in LA. After The Clash performed, the DJ began speaking right away and Clash guitarist Mick Jones attacked the DJ, believing he was trying to prevent an encore.
This and The Clash’s ironic criticism of the festival in the press conferences and in interviews prior to the event caused an argument backstage between Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth and The Clash singer Joe Strummer. This may have also been started by a comment guitarist Eddie Van Halen made inRolling Stone magazine one month prior regarding the punk movement (“…that’s like what I played in my garage when I was a kid, man.”). A clearly intoxicated Roth compounded this rivalry by insulting The Clash on stage early during Van Halen’s headlining set with his comment, “I wanna take this time to say that this is real whiskey here… the only people who put iced tea in Jack Daniel’s bottles is The Clash, baby!” This was Roth’s only mention of The Clash on stage that night.