By mid-1978, Elvis Costello and his band were road-testing material for their third album. One of the new songs was Accidents Will Happen, which would prove prophetic in more ways than one. First, bass player Bruce Thomas cut his hand on a broken bottle and had to be replaced by the band’s producer, Nick Lowe. But it was when they hit the US for their fourth American tour in a year that the going got weird. By the time the roadshow rolled into Columbus, Ohio in March 1979, collective psychosis had kicked in. It peaked when Costello got into a drunken argument with Stephen Stills, also touring with his band, and stupidly vilified black American icons Ray Charles and James Brown as “ignorant niggers”. To add injury to insult Costello dislocated his shoulder when things got physical, and the tour ended in disaster. Two weeks later, Accidents Will Happen was released as a single. Its key line? “Your mouth is made up but your mind is undone …” Elvis Costello plays Byron Bay Bluesfest, April 21.