The Clash performing in Oslo in 1980. Left to right: Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, and Paul Simonon.
|Associated acts||The 101ers; London SS; Generation X; The Rich Kids; Cowboys International; The Blockheads; General Public; Big Audio Dynamite; Havana 3am; The Latino Rockabilly War; The Pogues; The Mescaleros; Carbon/Silicon; The Good, the Bad and the Queen; Gorillaz|
Joe Strummer (1976–86)
Mick Jones (1976–83)
Paul Simonon (1976–86)
Terry Chimes (1976, 1977, 1982–83)
Nicky "Topper" Headon (1977–82)
Keith Levene (1976)
Rob Harper (1976–77)
Pete Howard (1983–86)
Nick Sheppard (1983–86)
Vince White (1983–86)
The Clash were an English punk rock band that formed in 1976 as part of the original wave of British punk. Along with punk, their music incorporated elements of reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap, and rockabilly. For most of their recording career, the Clash consisted of Joe Strummer (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (lead guitar, vocals), Paul Simonon (bass guitar, vocals) and Nicky "Topper" Headon (drums, percussion). Headon left the group in 1982, and internal friction led to Jones's departure the following year. The group continued with new members, but finally disbanded in early 1986.
The Clash achieved commercial success in the United Kingdom with the release of their debut album, The Clash, in 1977. Their third album, London Calling, released in the UK in December 1979, brought them popularity in the United States when it came out there the following month. It was declared the best album of the 1980s a decade later by Rolling Stone magazine.
The Clash's politicised lyrics, musical experimentation, and rebellious attitude had a far-reaching influence on rock, alternative rock in particular. They became widely referred to as "The Only Band That Matters", originally a promotional slogan introduced by the group's record label, CBS. In January 2003, the band—including original drummer Terry Chimes—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Clash number 28 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
Before the Clash's founding, the band's future members were active in different parts of the London music scene. John Graham Mellor sang and played rhythm guitar in the pub rock act The 101'ers, which formed in 1974. By the time the Clash came together two years later, he had already abandoned his original stage name, "Woody" Mellor, in favour of "Joe Strummer", a reference to his rudimentary strumming skills on the ukulele as a busker in the London Underground. Mick Jones played guitar in protopunk band London SS, which rehearsed for much of 1975 without ever playing a live show and recording only a single demo. London SS was managed by Bernard Rhodes, a sometime associate of impresario Malcolm McLaren and a friend of the members of the McLaren managed band, the Sex Pistols. Jones and his bandmates became friendly with Sex Pistols Glen Matlock and Steve Jones, who would assist them as they tried out potential new members. Among those who auditioned for London SS without making the cut were Paul Simonon, who tried out as a vocalist, and drummer Terry Chimes. Nicky Headon drummed with the band for a week, then quit.
After London SS broke up in early 1976, Rhodes continued as Jones's manager. In February, Jones saw the Sex Pistols perform for the first time: "You knew straight away that was it, and this was what it was going to be like from now on. It was a new scene, new values—so different from what had happened before. A bit dangerous." At the instigation of Rhodes, Jones contacted Simonon in March, suggesting he learn an instrument so he could join the new band Jones was organising. Soon Jones, Simonon on bass, Keith Levene on guitar and "whoever we could find really to play the drums" were rehearsing. Chimes was asked to audition for the new band and got the job, although he soon quit.
The act was still searching for a lead singer. Chimes recalls one Billy Watts (who "seemed to be, like, nineteen or eighteen then, as we all were") handling the duties for a time. Rhodes had his eye on Strummer, with whom he made exploratory contact. Jones and Levene had both seen him perform and were impressed as well. Strummer, for his part, was primed to make the switch. In April, he had taken in the opening act for one of his band's gigs-the Sex Pistols. "I knew something was up," Strummer later explained,
"so I went out in the crowd which was fairly sparse. And I saw the future—with a snotty handkerchief—right in front of me. It was immediately clear. Pub rock was, "Hello, you bunch of drunks, I'm gonna play these boogies and I hope you like them." The Pistols came out that Tuesday evening and their attitude was "Here's our tunes, and we couldn't give a flying fuck whether you like them or not. In fact, we're gonna play them even if you fucking hate them.""
On 30 May, Rhodes and Levene met surreptitiously with Strummer after a 101'ers gig. Rhodes gave him 48 hours to decide whether he wanted to join the new band that would "rival the Pistols". Within 24 hours, Strummer agreed. Simonon later remarked, "Once we had Joe on board it all started to come together." Strummer introduced the band to his old school friend Pablo LaBritain, who sat in on drums during Strummer's first few rehearsals with the group. LaBritain's stint with the band didn't last long (he subsequently joined 999), and Terry Chimes—whom Jones later referred to as "one of the best drummers" in their circle—became the band's regular drummer. In Westway to the World, Jones also says, "I don't think Terry was officially hired or anything. He had just been playing with us." Chimes did not take to Strummer at first: "He was like twenty-two or twenty-three or something that seemed 'old' to me then. And he had these retro clothes and this croaky voice". Simonon came up with the band's name after they had briefly dubbed themselves the Weak Heartdrops and the Psychotic Negatives. He later explained the name's origin: "It really came to my head when I started reading the newspapers and a word that kept recurring was the word 'clash', so I thought 'The Clash, what about that,' to the others. And they and Bernard, they went for it."
First gigs and the growing scene: 1976
After rehearsing with Strummer for less than a month, the Clash made their debut on 4 July 1976, supporting the Sex Pistols at the Black Swan in Sheffield. The band apparently wanted to make it on-stage before their rivals in The Damned—another London SS spinoff—made their own scheduled debut two days later. The Clash would not play in front of an audience again for another five weeks. Levene was becoming disaffected with his position in the group. At the Black Swan, he approached the Sex Pistols' lead singer, John Lydon (then going by Johnny Rotten), and suggested they get a band together if the Pistols ever broke up.
The night after their debut, the band members along with most of the Sex Pistols and much of the rest of London's "inner circle" of punks showed up at Dingwalls club to attend a concert by New York's leading punk rock band, the Ramones. Afterward "came the first example of the rivalry-induced squabbling that was to dog the punk scene and undermine any attempts to promote a spirit of unity among the bands involved." Simonon got into a scuffle with J.J. Burnel, the bass player of The Stranglers. A slightly older band, The Stranglers were publicly identified with the punk scene, but were not part of the "inner circle" centred on the Sex Pistols.
With Rhodes insisting that the band not perform live again until they were much tighter, the Clash rehearsed intensely over the following month. Strummer later described how seriously the band devoted itself to forging a distinct identity: "We were almost Stalinist in the way that you had to shed all your friends, or everything that you'd known, or every way that you'd played before." Strummer and Jones shared most of the writing duties—"Joe would give me the words and I would make a song out of them", Jones later said. Sometimes they would meet in the office over their Camden rehearsal studio to collaborate directly. According to a later description of Strummer's, "Bernie [Rhodes] would say, 'An issue, an issue. Don't write about love, write about what's affecting you, what's important."
Strummer took the lead vocals on the majority of songs; in some cases he and Jones shared the lead. Once the band began recording, Jones would rarely have a solo lead on more than one song per album, though he would be responsible for two of the group's biggest hits. On 13 August, the Clash—sporting a paint-spattered "Jackson Pollock" look—played before a small, invitation-only audience in their Camden studio. Among those in attendance was Sounds critic Giovanni Dadamo. His review described the band as a "runaway train...so powerful, they're the first new group to come along who can really scare the Sex Pistols shitless".
On 29 August, the Clash and Manchester's Buzzcocks opened for the Sex Pistols at the Screen on the Green —the Clash's first public performance since 4 July. The triple bill is seen as pivotal to the British punk scene's crystallisation into a movement, though NME reviewer Charles Shaar Murray wrote, "The Clash are the sort of garage band that should be speedily returned to the garage, preferably with the motor still running". Strummer later credited Murray's comments with inspiring the band's composition "Garageland".
In early September, Levene was fired from the Clash. Strummer would claim that Levene's dwindling interest in the band owed to his supposedly abundant use of speed, a charge Levene has denied. Levene and Lydon would form Public Image Ltd. in 1978. On 21 September, the Clash performed publicly for the first time without Levene at another seminal concert: the 100 Club Punk Special, sharing the bill with the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Subway Sect. Chimes left in late November; he was briefly replaced by Rob Harper as the Clash toured in support of the Sex Pistols during December's Anarchy Tour.
Rise and UK success: 1977–79
By the turn of the year, punk had become a major media phenomenon in the UK. On 25 January 1977, the Clash signed to CBS Records for £100,000, a remarkable amount for a band that had played a total of about thirty gigs and almost none as a headliner. As Clash historian Marcus Gray describes, the "band members found themselves having to justify [the deal] to both the music press and to fans who picked up on the critics' muttered asides about the Clash having 'sold out' to the establishment." Mark Perry, founder of the leading London punk periodical, Sniffin' Glue, let loose with what he would later call his "big quote": "Punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS." As one band associate described it, the deal "was later used as a classic example of the kind of contract that no group should ever sign—the group had to pay for their own tours, recordings, remixes, artwork, expenses...."
Mickey Foote, who worked as a technician at their concerts, was hired to produce the Clash's debut album, and Terry Chimes was drafted back for the recording. The band's first single, "White Riot", was released in March 1977 and reached number 34. The album, The Clash, came out the following month. Filled with fiery punk tracks, it also presaged the many eclectic turns the band would take with its cover of the reggae song "Police and Thieves". "[A]midst the Sex Pistols' inertia in the first half of 1977, the Clash found themselves as the flag-wavers of the punk rock consciousness", according to music journalist and former punk musician John Robb. Though the album charted well in the UK, climbing to number 12, CBS refused to give it a US release, believing that its raw, barely produced sound would make it unsalable in that market. A North American version of the album with a modified track listing was released in 1979, after the UK original became the best-selling import album of all time in the United States.
Chimes, whose career aspirations owed little to the punk ethos, had left the band again soon after the recording sessions. He later said, "The point was I wanted one kind of life and they wanted another and, like, why are we working together, if we want completely different things?" As a result, only Simonon, Jones and Strummer were featured on the album's cover, and Chimes was credited as "Tory Crimes". Strummer later described what followed: "We must have tried every drummer that then had a kit. I mean every drummer in London. I think we counted 205. And that's why we were lost until we found Topper Headon." Headon, who had played briefly with Jones's London SS, was nicknamed "Topper" by Simonon, who felt he resembled the Topper comic book character Mickey the Monkey. An excellent musician, Headon could also play piano, bass and guitar. The day after he signed up, he declared, "I really wanted to join the Clash. I want to give them even more energy than they've got—if that's possible"; interviewed over two decades later, he said his original plan was to stay briefly, gain a name for himself, and then move on to a better gig. In any event, Strummer later observed, "Finding someone who not only had the chops, but the strength and the stamina to do it was just the breakthrough for us".
In May, the band set out on the White Riot Tour, headlining a punk package that included the Buzzcocks, Subway Sect, The Slits and The Prefects. The day after a Newcastle gig, Strummer and Headon were arrested for stealing pillowcases from their hotel room. That same month, CBS released "Remote Control" as the debut LP's second single, defying the wishes of the band, who saw it as one of the album's weakest tracks. Headon's first recording with the band was the single "Complete Control", which addressed the band's anger at their record label's behaviour. It was co-produced by famed reggae artist Lee "Scratch" Perry, though Foote was summoned to "ground things" a bit and the result was pure punk rock. Released in September 1977—NME noted how CBS allowed the group to "bait their masters"—it rose to number 28 on the British chart and has gone on to be cited as one of punk's greatest singles. In February 1978, the band came out with the single "Clash City Rockers". June saw the release of "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais", which surprised fans with its ska rhythm and arrangement.
Before the Clash began recording their second album, CBS requested that they adopt a cleaner sound than its predecessor in order to reach American audiences. Sandy Pearlman, known for his work with Blue Öyster Cult, was hired to produce the record. Simonon later recalled, "[R]ecording that album was just the most boring situation ever. It was just so nitpicking, such a contrast to the first album...it ruined any spontaneity." Strummer agreed that "it wasn't our easiest session." Although some listeners complained about its relatively mainstream production style, Give 'Em Enough Rope received largely positive reviews upon its November release. It hit number 2 in the UK, but it was not the American breakthrough CBS had hoped for, reaching only number 128 on the Billboard chart. The album's first UK single, the hard rocking "Tommy Gun", rose to number 19, the highest chart position for a Clash single to date. In support of the album, the band toured the UK supported by The Slits and The Innocents. The series of concerts—there were more than thirty, from Edinburgh to Portsmouth—was promoted as the Sort It Out Tour. The band subsequently undertook its first, largely successful tour of North America in February 1979.
Success in the US and height of fame: 1979–82
In August and September 1979, the Clash recorded London Calling. Produced by Guy Stevens, a former A&R executive who had worked with Mott the Hoople and Traffic, the double album was a mix of punk rock, reggae, ska, rockabilly, traditional rock and roll and other elements possessed of an energy that had hardly flagged since the band's early days and more polished production. It is regarded as one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded. Its final track, a relatively straightforward rock and roll number sung by Mick Jones called "Train in Vain", was included at the last minute and thus did not appear in the track listing on the cover. It became their first US Top 40 hit, peaking at number 23 on the Billboard chart. In the UK, where "Train in Vain" was not released as a single, London Calling's title track, stately in beat but unmistakably punk in message and tone, rose to number 11—the highest position any Clash single reached in the UK before the band's break-up.
Released in December, London Calling hit number 9 on the British chart; in the United States, where it was issued in January 1980, it reached number 27. The cover of the album, based on the cover of Elvis Presley's self-titled 1956 debut LP, became one of the best known in the history of rock. Its image, by photographer Pennie Smith, of Simonon smashing his bass guitar was later cited as the "best rock 'n roll photograph of all time" by Q magazine. During this period, the Clash began to be regularly billed as "The Only Band That Matters". Musician Gary Lucas, then employed by CBS Records' creative services department, claims to have coined the tagline. The epithet was soon widely adopted by fans and music journalists.
Around the turn of the year, the band members attended a special private screening of a new film, Rude Boy; part fiction, part rockumentary, it tells the story of a Clash fan who leaves his job in a Soho sex shop to become a roadie for the group. The movie—named after the rude boy subculture—includes footage of the band on tour, at a London Rock Against Racism concert, and in the studio recording Give 'Em Enough Rope. The band was so disenchanted with it that they had Better Badges make buttons that declared "I don't want RUDE BOY Clash Film". On 27 February 1980, it premiered at the 30th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won an honourable mention.
The Clash had planned to record and release a single every month in 1980. CBS balked at this idea, and the band came out with only one single—an original reggae tune, "Bankrobber", in August—before the December release of the 3-LP, 36-song Sandinista! The album again reflected a broad range of musical styles, including extended dubs and the first forays into rap by a major rock band. Produced by the band members with the participation of Jamaican reggae artist Mikey Dread, Sandinista! was their most controversial album to date, both politically and musically. Critical opinion was divided, often within individual reviews. Trouser Press's Ira Robbins described half the album as "great", half as "nonsense" and worse. In the New Rolling Stone Record Guide, Dave Marsh argued, "Sandinista! is nonsensically cluttered. Or rather seems nonsensically cluttered. One of the Clash's principal concerns...is to avoid being stereotyped." The album fared well in America, charting at number 24.
In 1981, the band came out with a single, "This Is Radio Clash", that further demonstrated their ability to mix diverse influences such as dub and hip hop. They set to work on their fifth album in September, originally planning it as a 2-LP set with the title Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg. Jones produced one cut, but the other members were dissatisfied. Production duties were handed to Glyn Johns, and the album was reconceived as a single LP, and released as Combat Rock in May 1982. Though filled with offbeat songs, experiments with sound collage, and a spoken word vocal by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, it contained two "radio friendly" tracks. The leadoff single in the US was "Should I Stay or Should I Go", released in June 1982. Another Jones feature in a rock and roll style similar to "Train in Vain", it received heavy airplay on AOR stations. The follow-up, "Rock the Casbah", put lyrics addressing the Iranian clampdown on imports of Western music to a bouncy dance rhythm. (The singles were released in the opposite order in the UK, where they were both preceded by "Know Your Rights".) The music for "Rock the Casbah" was composed by Headon, who performed not only the percussion but also the piano and bass heard on the recorded version. It was the band's biggest US hit ever, charting at number 8, and the video was put into heavy rotation by MTV. The album itself was the band's most successful, hitting number 2 in the UK and number 7 in the US.
Disintegration and break up: 1982–86
After Combat Rock, the Clash began to disintegrate. Headon was asked to leave the band just before the album's release because heroin addiction was damaging his health and drumming. Chimes was brought back to drum for the next few months. The loss of Headon, well-liked by the others, exposed growing friction within the band. Jones and Strummer began to feud. The band opened for The Who on a leg of their final tour in the US, including a show at New York's Shea Stadium.
Though the Clash continued to tour, tension continued to increase. In early 1983, Chimes left the band after the Combat Rock Tour because of in-fighting and turmoil. He was replaced by Pete Howard for the US Festival in San Bernardino, California, which the Clash co-headlined, along with David Bowie and Van Halen. The band argued with the event's promoters over inflated ticket prices, threatening to pull out unless a large donation was made to a local charity. The group ultimately performed on 28 May, the festival's New Music Day, which drew a crowd of 140,000. After the show, members of the band brawled with security staff. This was Jones's last appearance with the group: in September 1983, he was fired. Shortly thereafter, he became a founding member of General Public, but left that band as they were recording their first album.
Nick Sheppard, formerly of the Bristol-based band The Cortinas, and Vince White were recruited as the Clash's new guitarists. Howard continued as the drummer. The reconstituted band played its first shows in January 1984 with a batch of new material and launched into the self-financed Out of Control Tour, travelling widely over the winter and into early summer. At a striking miners' benefit show ("Scargill's Christmas Party") in December 1984, they announced that a new album would be released early in the new year.
The recording sessions for Cut the Crap were chaotic, with manager Bernard Rhodes and Strummer working in Munich. Most of the music was played by studio musicians, with Sheppard and later White flying in to provide guitar parts. Struggling with Rhodes for control of the band, Strummer returned home. The band went on a busking tour of public spaces in cities throughout the UK, playing acoustic versions of their hits and popular cover tunes.
After a concert in Athens, Strummer went to Spain to clear his mind. While he was abroad, the first single from Cut the Crap, the mournful "This Is England", was released to mostly negative reviews. "CBS had paid an advance for it so they had to put it out", Strummer later explained. "I just went, 'Well fuck this', and fucked off to the mountains of Spain to sit sobbing under a palm tree, while Bernie had to deliver a record." However, critic Dave Marsh later championed "This Is England" as one of the top 1001 rock singles of all time. The single has also received retroactive praise from Q magazine and others.
"This Is England", much like the rest of the album that came out later that year, had been drastically re-engineered by Rhodes, with synths and football-style chants added to Strummer's incomplete recordings. Although Howard was an adept drummer, drum machines were used for virtually all of the percussion tracks. For the remainder of his life, Strummer largely disowned the album, although he did profess that "I really like 'This Is England' [and album track] 'North and South' is a vibe." In early 1986, The Clash disbanded. Strummer later described the group's end: "When the Clash collapsed, we were tired. There had been a lot of intense activity in five years. Secondly, I felt we'd run out of idea gasoline. And thirdly, I wanted to shut up and let someone else have a go at it."
This period of disintegration which feature interviews with members of The Clash is the subject matter of Danny Garcia's book and film, 'The Rise and Fall of The Clash'. 
Collaborations and reunions 1986–present
After the break-up, Strummer contacted Jones in an effort to reform the Clash. Jones, however, had already formed a new band, Big Audio Dynamite (B.A.D.), that had released its debut late in 1985. The two did work together on their respective 1986 projects. Jones helped out with the two songs Strummer wrote and performed for the Sid and Nancy soundtrack. Strummer, in turn, cowrote a number of the tracks on the second B.A.D. album, No. 10, Upping St., which he also co-produced. With Jones committed to B.A.D., Strummer moved on to various solo projects and screen acting work. Simonon formed a band called Havana 3am. Headon recorded a solo album, before once again spiraling into drug abuse. Chimes drummed with a succession of different acts.
On 2 March 1991, a reissue of "Should I Stay or Should I Go" gave the Clash its first and only number 1 UK single. That same year, Strummer reportedly cried when he learned that "Rock the Casbah" had been adopted as a slogan by US bomber pilots in the Gulf War.
In 1999, Strummer, Jones and Simonon cooperated in compiling of the live album From Here to Eternity and video documentary Westway to the World. On 7 November 2002, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced that the Clash would be inducted the following March. On 15 November, Jones and Strummer shared the stage, performing three Clash songs during a London benefit show by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. Strummer, Jones and Headon wanted to play a reunion show to coincide with their induction into the Hall of Fame. Simonon did not want to participate because he believed that playing at the high-priced event would not have been in the spirit of the Clash. Strummer's sudden death from a congenital heart defect on 22 December 2002 ended any possibility of a full reunion. In March 2003, the Hall of Fame induction took place; the band members inducted were Strummer, Jones, Simonon, Chimes and Headon.
In early 2008, Carbon/Silicon, a new band founded by Mick Jones and his former London SS bandmate Tony James, entered into a six-week residency at London's Inn on the Green. On opening night, 11 January, Headon joined the band for the Clash's "Train in Vain". An encore followed with Headon playing drums on "Should I Stay or Should I Go". This was the first time since 1982 that Headon and Jones had performed together on stage.
Jones and Headon reunited in September 2009 to record the 1970s Clash B-side "Jail Guitar Doors" with Billy Bragg. The song is the namesake of a charity founded by Bragg which gives musical instruments and lessons to prison inmates. Jones, Headon, and Bragg were backed by former inmates during the session, which was filmed for a documentary about the charity, "Breaking Rocks." Simonon and Jones were featured on the title track of the Gorillaz album Plastic Beach in 2010. This reunion marked the first time the two performers had worked together in over twenty years. They later joined Gorillaz on their world tour for the remainder of 2010.
On 9 September 2013 in the UK (and a day later in the U.S.), The Clash will release Sound System a twelve disc box set featuring their studio albums completely re-mastered on eight discs with an additional three discs featuring demos, non-album singles, rarities and B-sides, a DVD with previously unseen footage by both Don Letts and Julien Temple, original promo videos and live footage, an owner's manual booklet, reprints of the band's original 'Armagideon Times' fanzine as well as a brand new edition curated and designed by Paul Simonon and merchandise including dog tags, badges, stickers and an exclusive Clash poster. Both Mick Jones and Paul Simonon oversaw the project including the re-masters. The box set will come in a package shaped as a 80's ghetto blaster. The box set will also be accompied by The Clash Hits Back a 33-track, two-CD best of collection sequenced to copy the set played by the band at the Brixton Fair Deal (now the Academy) on 19 July 1982
The band's music was often charged by a leftist political ideology. Strummer, in particular, was a committed leftist. The Clash are credited with pioneering the advocacy of radical politics in punk rock, and were dubbed the "Thinking Man's Yobs" by NME. Like many early punk bands, the Clash protested against monarchy and aristocracy; however, unlike many of their peers, they rejected nihilism. Instead, they found solidarity with a number of contemporary liberation movements and were involved with such groups as the Anti-Nazi League. On 30 April 1978, the Clash played the Rock Against Racism concert in London's Victoria Park for a crowd of 50–100,000 people; Strummer wore a T-shirt identifying two violent left-wing groups: the words "Brigate Rosse"—Italy's Red Brigades—appeared alongside the insignia of the Red Army Faction—West Germany's Baader-Meinhof Group.
Their politics were made explicit in the lyrics of such early recordings as "White Riot", which encouraged disaffected white youths to riot like their black counterparts; "Career Opportunities", which addressed the alienation of low-paid, routinised jobs and discontent over the lack of alternatives; and "London's Burning", about the bleakness and boredom of life in the inner city. Artist Caroline Coon, who was associated with the punk scene, argued that "[t]hose tough, militaristic songs were what we needed as we went into Thatcherism". The scope of the band's political interests widened on later recordings.
The title of Sandinista! celebrated the left-wing rebels who had recently overthrown Nicaraguan despot Anastasio Somoza Debayle, and the album was filled with songs driven by other political issues extending far beyond British shores: "Washington Bullets" addressed covert military operations around the globe, while "The Call-Up" was a meditation on US draft policies. Combat Rock's "Straight to Hell" is described by scholars Simon Reynolds and Joy Press as an "around-the-world-at-war-in-five-verses guided tour of hell-zones where boy-soldiers had languished."
The band's political sentiments were reflected in their resistance to the music industry's usual profit motivations; even at their peak, tickets to shows and souvenirs were reasonably priced. The group insisted that CBS sell their double and triple album sets London Calling and Sandinista! for the price of a single album each (then £5), succeeding with the former and compromising with the latter by agreeing to sell it for £5.99 and forfeit all their performance royalties on its first 200,000 sales. These "VFM" (value for money) principles meant that they were constantly in debt to CBS, and only started to break even around 1982.
Legacy and influence
In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Clash number 28 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and in 2010, the band was ranked 22nd on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. According to The Times, the Clash's debut, alongside Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, is "punk's definitive statement" and London Calling "remains one of the most influential rock albums". In Rolling Stone's 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, London Calling ranked number 8, the highest entry by a punk band. The Clash was number 77 and Sandinista! was number 404. In the magazine's 2004 list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, "London Calling" ranked number 15, again the highest for any song by a punk band. Four other Clash songs made the list: "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" (228), "Train In Vain" (292), "Complete Control" (361), and "White Man In Hammersmith Palais" (430). "London Calling" ranked number 48 in the magazine's 2008 list of the 100 greatest guitar songs of all time.
In John Robb's description, the Clash's debut established the "blueprint for the sound and the soul of what punk rock would be about.... The Clash were utterly inspirational, utterly positive, and they offered a million possibilities." Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers, the first major punk band from Northern Ireland, explained the record's impact:
[T]he big watershed was The Clash album—that was go out, cut your hair, stop mucking about time, y'know. Up to that point we'd still been singing about bowling down California highways. I mean, it meant nothing to me. Although The Damned and the Pistols were great, they were only exciting musically; lyrically, I couldn't really make out a lot if it.... [T]o realise that [The Clash] were actually singing about their own lives in West London was like a bolt out of the blue.
The Clash also inspired many musicians who were only loosely associated, if at all, with punk. The band's embrace of ska, reggae and England's Jamaican subculture helped provide the impetus for the 2 Tone movement that emerged amid the fallout of the punk explosion. Other musicians who began performing while the Clash were active and acknowledged their debt to the band include Billy Bragg and Aztec Camera. U2's The Edge has compared the Clash's inspirational effect to that of the Ramones—both gave young rock musicians at large the "sense that the door of possibility had swung open." He wrote, "The Clash, more than any other group, kick-started a thousand garage bands across Ireland and the UK... [S]eeing them perform was a life-changing experience." Bono has described the Clash as "the greatest rock band. They wrote the rule book for U2."
In later years, the Clash's influence can be heard in American political punk bands such as Rancid, Anti-Flag, Bad Religion, NOFX, Green Day, and Rise Against as well as in the political hard rock of early Manic Street Preachers. California's Rancid, in particular, are known as "incurable Clash zealots". The title track of the band's album Indestructible proclaims, "I'll keep listening to that great Joe Strummer!"
The Clash's involvement with Jamaican musical and production styles has inspired similar cross-cultural efforts by bands such as Bad Brains, Massive Attack, 311, Sublime and No Doubt. They are credited with laying the groundwork for LCD Soundsystem's "punk-funk". Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers lists London Calling as the record that "changed his life". Bands identified with the garage rock revival of the late 1990s and 2000s such as Sweden's The Hives, Australia's The Vines and America's The White Stripes and The Strokes evince the Clash's influence. Among the many latter-day British acts identified as having been inspired by the Clash are Babyshambles, The Futureheads, The Charlatans and Arctic Monkeys. Before M.I.A. had an international hit in 2008 with "Paper Planes", which is built around a sample from "Straight to Hell", she referenced "London Calling" on 2003's "Galang". A cover of "The Guns of Brixton" by German punk band Die Toten Hosen was released as a single in 2006. A version by reggae legend Jimmy Cliff with Tim Armstrong from Rancid was scheduled for release in November 2011. American-Irish punk band Dropkick Murphys released a cover of the song on Anti Heros vs Dropkick Murphys in 1997.
In June 2009 Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band opened their concert in Hyde Park, London, with 'London Calling'. The concert was later released on DVD as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: London Calling - Live in Hyde Park. Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven, Dave Grohl and Elvis Costello did the same song on The Grammy awards in 2003 as a tribute to Joe Strummer who had passed away the year before.
The band has also had a notable impact on music in the Spanish-speaking world. In 1997, a Clash tribute album featuring performances by Buenos Aires punk bands was released. Many rock en español bands such as Todos Tus Muertos, Café Tacuba, Maldita Vecindad, Los Prisioneros, Tijuana No, and Attaque 77 are indebted to the Clash. Argentina's Los Fabulosos Cadillacs covered "Should stay or should I go!",London Calling's "Revolution Rock" and "The Guns of Brixton" and invited Mick Jones to sing on their song "Mal Bicho". The Clash's influence is similarly reflected in Paris-founded Mano Negra's politicised lyrics and fusion of musical styles.
- The Clash (1977)
- Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978)
- London Calling (1979)
- Sandinista! (1980)
- Combat Rock (1982)
- Cut the Crap (1985)
- Buckley, Peter, ed. (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock (3d ed.). London: Rough Guides. ISBN 1-84353-105-4. OCLC 223842562.
- Campo, Alberto (1998). Clash. Florence, Italy: Giunti Editore. ISBN 88-09-21509-5. OCLC 8809215095.
- Coon, Caroline (1977). 1988: The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion. New York: Hawthorn. ISBN 0-8015-6129-9. OCLC 79262599.
- D'Ambrosio, Antonino (2004). Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer (1st ed.). New York: Nation Books. ISBN 1-56025-625-7. OCLC 56988650.
- Eddy, Chuck (1997). The Accidental Evolution of Rock'n'Roll: A Misguided Tour through Popular Music. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80741-6. OCLC 35919230.
- Ferraz, Rob (08 2001). "Joe Strummer & The Clash – Revolution Rock". exclaim.ca.
- Gilbert, Pat (2005) . Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th ed.). London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1-84513-113-4. OCLC 61177239.
- Gimarc, George (2005). Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock, 1970–1982. San Francisco: Backbeat. ISBN 0-87930-848-6. OCLC 60513159.
- Gray, Marcus (2005) . The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (5th revised ed.). London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1-905139-10-1. OCLC 60668626.
- Johnstone, Nick (2006). The Clash "Talking": The Clash in Their Own Words. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84609-400-3. OCLC 466967080.
- Letts, Don (director) (2001) . The Clash: Westway to the World (DVD ). Sony Music Entertainment. ISBN 0-7389-0082-6. OCLC 49798077.
- Reynolds, Simon; Press, Joy (1996). The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock 'n' Roll. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-80273-X. OCLC 30971390.
- Robb, John (2006). Punk Rock: An Oral History (4th ed.). London: Ebury Press. ISBN 0-09-190511-7. OCLC 0091924677.
- Salewicz, Chris (2006). Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer. New York: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-21178-X. OCLC 238839364.
- Savage, Jon (1992). England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock and Beyond (US ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-08774-8. OCLC 318418456.
- Strongman, Phil (2008). Pretty Vacant: A History of UK Punk. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1-55652-752-7. OCLC 173299117.
- Topping, Keith (2004) . The Complete Clash (2d ed.). Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1-903111-70-6. OCLC 63129186.
- "Clash star Strummer dies" (STM). Entertainment (BBC News World Edition). 27 December 2002. Retrieved 20 November 2007.
- "Strummer's lasting culture Clash" (STM). Entertainment (BBC News World Edition). 23 December 2002. Retrieved 20 November 2007.
- "The Clash by The Edge". Rolling Stone Issue 946. 15 April 2004.
- Robb 2006, pp. 130–132.
- Gray 2005, p. 72.
- Gray 2005, p. 56.
- Gilmore, Mikal (3 March 2011). "The Fury and the Power of the Clash". Rolling Stone (1125): 60–79.
- Robb 2006, p. 151.
- Rowley, Scott (October 1999). "Paul Simonon's first ever bass interview". Bassist Magazine (London) (10).
- Gray 2005, p. 79.
- Strongman 2008, p. 103.
- Robb 2006, pp. 192, 193.
- "Interview". Record Collector. Joe Strummer Resource. 2000. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
- According to band biographer Marcus Gray (2005), "Bernie phoned him a day ahead of schedule, and demanded an answer there and then" (p. 127). In Westway to the World, Jones confirms the 48-hour deadline, while Strummer says it was he who made the call after just 24 (11:34–11:40). Jones elsewhere gave a different account, according to which Strummer was originally given 24 hours to decide, and Rhodes called after just eight (Robb 2006, p. 194).
- Letts 2001, 17:16–17:22.
- According to Gray (2005), Rhodes asked Chimes to rejoin (pp. 133–34).
- Interviewer: Unknown; Presenter: Kurt Loder. "MTV Rockumentary". MTV.
- Topping 2004, p. 12.
- Gray 2005, p. 143.
- Loder, Kurt (13 March 2003). "The Clash: Ducking Bottles, Asking Questions". MTV News. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
- Robb 2006, p. 196.
- Gray 2005, p. 144.
- Letts 2001, 14:57–15:08.
- Robb 2006, p. 326.
- Savage 1992, p. 232. Jones's later take on the matter: "Bernie had a hand in everything. Not the lyrics—he didn't help with the lyrics. He didn't tell us not to write love songs, as the myth goes—that's kind of simplified version of it. He told us to write what we knew about" (Robb 2006, p. 197).
- Robb 2006, pp. 195–197.
- Strongman 2008, p. 133.
- Robb 2006, pp. 212–215.
- Salewicz 2006, p. 162.
- Letts 2001, 24:23–24:43.
- Robb 2006, pp. 215–216.
- Savage 1992, p. 220.
- Gray 2005, pp. 164–166.
- Robb 2006, pp. 216–223.
- "The Clash Sex Pistols 100 Club Festival". blackmarketclash.com. Archived from the original on 4 November 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2007.
- "1976 – The Clash Live". blackmarketclash.com. Retrieved 31 December 2007.
- Coon 1977.
- Gray 2005, p. 216.
- Gray 2005, p. 217.
- Gray 2005, p. 218.
- Roadent, quoted in Strongman 2008, p. 199.
- Robb 2006, p. 325.
- Gimarc 2005, p. 61.
- Henke, James (3 April 1980). "There'll Be Dancing In The Streets: The Clash". Rolling Stone: 38–41.
- Letts 2001, 18:09–18:16.
- Letts 2001, 30:30–30:41.
- Gray 2005, p. 244. Gray misspells the character's name as Micky.
- Letts 2001, 38:07–38:11, 38:33–38:35.
- Letts 2001, 38:35–38:44.
- Robb 2006, pp. 329–339.
- Robb 2006, p. 338.
- Strongman 2008, pp. 201–202.
- Strongman 2008, pp. 203–204.
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". RollingStone. 9 December 2004. Archived from the original on 20 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
- Letts 2001, 42:43–42:56.
- Ferraz 2001.
- Gray 2005, p. 291–292.
- Marcus, Greil (25 January 1979). "The Clash: Give 'Em Enough Rope". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 18 March 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
- Kozak, Roman (3 March 1979). "Surprisingly Few Clashes Noted As the Clash Tours the Nation". Billboard: 103.
- Kerley, Paul (17 June 2010). "London Calling cover honoured". BBC/6 Music. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
- Metzger, John (November 2004). "The Clash London Calling 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition". The Music Box. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "London Calling Review". allmusic.com. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- Battersby, Matilda (16 June 2010). "London Calling: Tracey Emin and friends pay tribute to the Clash's 'official war artist'". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 17 June 2010.
- Gray 2005, p. 503.
- Diehl, Matt (2007). My So-Called Punk (Macmillan), p. 187.
- Norris, Chris (21 July 1997). "Cult Cash Clan". New York.
- Gray 2005, p.334. For image of button, see "The Clash Pins". WWWhatsup Online Pinstand. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- Gray 2005, p. 334.
- "Prizes & Honours (1980)". Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlinprint. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- Jaffee, Larry (1987). The Politics of Rock (Popular Music and Society), pp. 19–30.
- "Clash". Trouser Press. Retrieved 4 September 2008.
- Marsh, Dave. "The Clash". In Dave Marsh and John Swenson, eds. (1983), The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (Random House/Rolling Stone Press), pp. 99–100.
- "The Clash". Induction. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. 10 March 2003. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- Gray 2005, p. 380.
- Letts 2001, 1:07:11–1:08:09, 1:08:59–1:09:54..
- Cromelin, Richard (31 January 1988). "Strummer on Man, God, Law and the Clash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- Gray 2005, p. 398.
- Marsh, Dave (1989). The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (Penguin), pp. 77–80. ISBN 0-14-012108-0.
- Johnstone 2006, p. 104.
- ,author= Danny Garcia publisher= Thin Man Press, London. ASIN 956247326.
- "Revolution Rock: Documentary Pays Tribute to Clash Frontman Joe Strummer". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 1 February 2008. Archived from the original on 13 March 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2008.
- Vineyard, Jennifer (7 November 2002). "AC/DC, Clash, Police To Be Inducted Into Rock Hall Of Fame". MTV. Retrieved 2 September 2008.
- "The Clash's Mick Jones and Topper Headon reunite after 25 years". NME. UK. 14 January 2005. Retrieved 15 January 2005.
- "Billy Bragg teams up with "Clash"-ers Mick Jones & Topper Headon for "Jail Guitar Doors"". Denver Thread. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- "Gorillaz 'thrilled' to work with The Clash". Digital Spy. 24 February 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
- "The Clash" (JHTML). Retrieved 17 November 2007.
- McCarthy, Jackie (22 December 1999). "White Riot". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 26 March 2008.
- Gray 2005, pp. 277–278.
- Hazan, Jack; David Mingay, Ray Gange, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Nicky Headon, Buzzy Enterprises, Epic Music Video (2006). Rude Boy (Documentary, Rockumentary). New York, NY, United States: Epic Music Video. ISBN 0-7389-0082-6. OCLC 70850190.
- "Joe Strummer". The Times (UK). 24 December 2002. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
- Gray (2004), pp. 145–146, 158–159, 169–171.
- Gilbert 2005, p. 190.
- Gray (2004), pp. 355–356
- Reynolds & Press 1996, p. 72.
- Gray (2004), p. 349.
- "100 Greatest Artists: The Clash | Rolling Stone Music | Lists". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
- "VH1 Listed 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time". Today24News. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 18 November 2003. Archived from the original on 23 June 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Robb 2006, pp. 325–326.
- Strongman 2008, pp. 188–189.
- D'Ambrosio 2004, p. 298.
- Gray, Chris (24 December 2002). "Fans Mourn Passing of the Political Man of Punk". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 28 August 2009.
- Stockman, Steve (2005). Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 (Relevant Media Group), p. 10. ISBN 0-9760357-5-8.
- D'Ambrosio 2004, p. 262.
- D'Ambrosio 2004, pp. 192, 251, 257, 298, 318–319.
- Kot, Greg (4 September 2003). "Rancid: Indestructible". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 1 June 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
- Milner, Greg (25 September 2003). "Punk Survivors Keep Up the Fight". Spin. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
- D'Ambrosio 2004, p. 257.
- "Ten Modern Bands Inspired by The Clash". ShortList.com. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
- D'Ambrosio 2004, pp. 262–263.
- "Single—'The Guns Of Brixton (Unplugged)'". Die Toten Hosen. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
- Rachel, T. Cole (11 August 2011). "Progress Report: Jimmy Cliff". Stereogum. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
- "Dropkick Murphys — The Guns Of Brixton (The Clash Cover)". nme-video. NME.
- Anti-Heros and Dropkick Murphys — Split at Discogs
- Lannert, John (29 March 1997), "Latin Notas: Manzanera to Attend Latin Confab", Billboard, p. 33.
- Lannert, John (1 November 1997), "Latin Notas: IFPI Looks to Harmonize Sales Data", Billboard, p. 42; Linhardt, Alexander Lloyd (16 October 2003). "Album Review: Café Tacuba—Cuatro Camino". Pitchfork. Retrieved 28 August 2009. Birchmeier, Jason. "Café Tacuba—Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 28 August 2009. Careaga, Roberto (17 January 2009). "Claudio Narea: El hombre que perdió todo por Los Prisioneros". La Tercera. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
- Campo 1998, p. 6.
- Eddy 1997, p. 181.
- Buckley 2003, p. 367.
- Campo 1998, p. 5.
- Clash, The (2008). The Clash: Strummer, Jones, Simonon, Headon. London: Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-84354-788-0. OCLC 236120343.
- Green, Johnny, and Garry Barker (2003 ). A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Orion. ISBN 0-7528-5843-2. OCLC 52990890.
- Gruen, Bob, and Chris Salewicz (2004 ). The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Omnibus. ISBN 1-903399-34-3. OCLC 69241279.
- Kaye, Lenny, Lester Bangs, and Kosmo Vinyl (2000 ). Clash on Broadway (2nd ed.). New York: Sony Music. OCLC 54426634.
- Lowry, Ray (2007). The Clash. Warwick: Angry Penguin. ISBN 1-906283-36-2. OCLC 165412921.
- Miles, Barry (1981). The Clash. London and New York: Omnibus Press. OCLC 7676911.
- Needs, Kris (2005). Joe Strummer and the Legend of the Clash. London: Plexus. ISBN 0-85965-348-X. OCLC 53155325.
- Quantick, David (2000). The Clash. Kill Your Idols. London: Unanimous. ISBN 1-903318-03-3. OCLC 59417418.
- Smith, Pennie (1980). The Clash: Before and After. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-80169-0. OCLC 8034340.
- Tobler, John, and Barry Miles (1983). The Clash. London and New York: Omnibus. ISBN 0-7119-0288-7. OCLC 21335564.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The Clash|