The Clash achieved commercial success in the United Kingdom with the release of their self-titled debut album, The Clash , in Their third album, London Calling , released in the UK in December , earned them popularity in the United States when it was released there the following month. It was declared the best album of the s a decade later by Rolling Stone.
Their final album, Cut the Crap , was released in The Clash's politicized lyrics, musical experimentation , and rebellious attitude had a far-reaching influence on rock, and alternative rock in particular. In , Rolling Stone ranked the Clash number 28 on its list of the 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 ers , which formed in 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 without ever playing a live show and recording only a single demo. 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. Nicky Headon drummed with the band for a week, then quit. 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. The band 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. Jones and Levene had both seen him perform and were impressed as well.
In April, he had taken in the opening act for one of his band's gigs—the Sex Pistols. Strummer later explained:. I knew something was up, 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.
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 'ers gig. Strummer was invited to meet up at the band's rehearsal location on Davis Road. After Strummer turned up, Levene grabbed his guitar, stood several inches away from Strummer, looked him in the eye and then began playing "Keys to Your Heart", one of Strummer's own tunes. Rhodes gave him 48 hours to decide whether he wanted to join the new band that would "rival the Pistols.
LaBritain's stint with the band did not last long he subsequently joined , and Terry Chimes—whom Jones later referred to as "one of the best drummers" in their circle—became the band's regular drummer. He had just been playing with us. And he had these retro clothes and this croaky voice". And they and Bernard, they went for it. After rehearsing with Strummer for less than a month, the Clash made their debut on 4 July , 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. At the Black Swan, he approached the Sex Pistols' lead singer, John Lydon then going by Johnny Rotten , and suggested they form a band together if the Pistols 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. 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.
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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.
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. His review described the band as a "runaway train 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".
In early September, Levene was fired from the Clash. Strummer would claim that Levene's dwindling interest in the band owed to his supposedly extravagant use of speed , a charge Levene has denied. By the turn of the year, punk had become a major media phenomenon in the UK. 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 and reached number 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 ". 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? Strummer later described what followed: "We must have tried every drummer that then had a kit. I mean every drummer in London.
Timeline of punk rock
I think we counted And that's why we were lost until we found Topper Headon. 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.
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 — 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. June saw the release of " White Man In Hammersmith Palais ", which surprised fans with its reggae 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.
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 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 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 , it reached number The cover of the album, based on the cover of Elvis Presley 's self-titled debut LP , became one of the best known in the history of rock.
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 Clash had planned to record and release a single every month in 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, song Sandinista! The album again reflected a broad range of musical styles, including extended dubs and the one of the first forays into rap by a major rock band, following Ant Rap by Adam and the Ants which was released a month earlier.
Produced by the band members with the participation of Jamaican reggae artist Mikey Dread , Sandinista! Trouser Press ' s Ira Robbins described half the album as "great", half as "nonsense" and worse. Or rather seems nonsensically cluttered. One of the Clash's principal concerns In , 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. Jones produced one cut, but the other members were dissatisfied.
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 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.
The album itself was the band's most successful, hitting number 2 in the UK and number 7 in the US. 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. The loss of Headon, well-liked by the others, exposed growing friction within the band. Jones and Strummer began to feud. Though the Clash continued to tour, tension continued to increase. In early , Chimes left the band after the Combat Rock Tour because of in-fighting and turmoil.
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 , After the show, members of the band brawled with security staff. 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 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 , they announced that a new album would be released early in the new year. 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. 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.
- Combat Rock: A History of Punk (From It's Origins to the Present) on Apple Books.
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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.
The Clash - Wikipedia
This period of disintegration, featuring interviews with members of the Clash, is the subject matter of Danny Garcia's book and film, The Rise and Fall of the Clash. 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. The two did work together on their respective projects.
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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.
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. 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. 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.
We ship free economy to addresses in the UK. For international orders please use the Ebay Global Shipping Programme. We have a shop in Dulverton, Somerset and always encourage you to come and look at the items before you buy. If it is an instrument you are welcome to try it before buying, just get in contact. Notre Dame de France, 15 November, The rules were not yet set for what constituted Punk fashion, so everything from plastic bin liners to fake leopard print fur was acceptable. Sweat was running down the walls.
Audience at the Sex Pistols, Notre Dame de France, 15 November, wearing bin liners, shopping bags on their shoulders, and handcuffs.
Subway Sect singer Vic Godard right. From Spirit of 76 , published by Anthology Editions. Originally published in Literary Hub. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join.