The Clash

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TheClash

Complete Control was released 37 years ago today... http://t.co/Ivf86Yhnfj


At a Glance

Formed: 1976 (38 years ago)
Split: 1986 (28 years ago)


Biography

Formed in 1976 in the vanguard of British punk, The Clash would soon become the most iconic rock band of their era, a symbol of intelligent protest and stylish rebellion in the turbulent years of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Just as importantly, they were to become unflinching musical pioneers, integrating first militant reggae, then dub, funk, jazz and hip hop into their music, which has helped to make them one of the most respected and sampled bands by modern DJs and dance musicians.
Eventually cracking the Top 10 in America in 1982, before splitting three years later, they were to leave ... Read more

Formed in 1976 in the vanguard of British punk, The Clash would soon become the most iconic rock band of their era, a symbol of intelligent protest and stylish rebellion in the turbulent years of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Just as importantly, they were to become unflinching musical pioneers, integrating first militant reggae, then dub, funk, jazz and hip hop into their music, which has helped to make them one of the most respected and sampled bands by modern DJs and dance musicians.
Eventually cracking the Top 10 in America in 1982, before splitting three years later, they were to leave behind an extraordinary recorded legacy comprising four single albums - ‘The Clash’ (1977), ‘Give ’Em Enough Rope’ (1978), Combat Rock (1982) and ‘Cut The Crap’ (1985) – a magnificent double in their legendary ‘London Calling’ (1979) voted album of the decade by Rolling Stone magazine and a controversial, experimental and musically diverse triple – ‘Sandinista!’ (1980).
The Clash had sparked into life in June 1976 when west London art school drop-outs Paul Simonon (bass) and Mick Jones (guitar) approached Joe Strummer, the singer with an outfit called The 101’ers, to join their new group. Guided by The Clash’s unorthodox and free-thinking manager Bernard Rhodes, the group created the English punk movement with the Sex Pistols. The band’s manifesto was outlined in an early NME interview: “We’re anti-Fascist, we’re anti-violence, we’re anti-racist and we’re pro-creative.”
Rhodes encouraged the band to confront the issues of the day and write about the things that affected them personally – and The Clash rose to the challenge, crafting razor-sharp vignettes of the seedy, edgy world of inner London’s streets in the mid-’70s, referencing tower blocks, drugs, boredom, racism, violence, cheap thrills, trouble with the police… Their first single, ‘White Riot’, was written after Strummer and Simonon had participated in the Notting Hill riots in August 1976, in which blacks fought police in the streets around Paul’s old school.
In January 1977, The band signed to CBS and with drummer Terry Chimes recorded their peerless debut album ‘The Clash’, featuring classic numbers like ‘White Riot’, ‘I’m So Bored Of The USA’ and ‘London’s Burning’. Crucially, the album included The Clash’s interpretation of ‘Police And Thieves’, an underground reggae hit in 1976 for Junior Murvin; the move signalled the group’s admiration for Jamaican music – Simonon in particular was a self-confessed “reggae addict” from his childhood growing up in heavily black neighbourhoods like Brixton and Ladbroke Grove – and solidarity with London’s West Indian population, then the target of what was later admitted to be an "institutionally racist" police force.
Live, The Clash were from the start a volcanic phenomenon, arguably unmatched before or since for their on-stage passion, style and energy. The band’s sharp look was an essential part of their appeal, with their military-cut outfits becoming in the early days billboards for slogans, ideas and lyrics, with “Heavy Manners”, “Sten Guns In Knightsbridge” and “Passion Is A Fashion” emblazoned across them. Meanwhile,
Paul and Joe’s guitars bore buzz-words like “Noise”, “Positive” and “Pressure”.
After their debut album, the classic Clash line-up was completed by Topper Headon, a drumming whiz from Dover who’d learned his chops in soul and jazz bands. His technical prowess allowed The Clash to swiftly evolve from a garage punk band into a group capable of tackling myriad different styles, one of the first examples being the stirring rock-reggae of ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’, Joe’s story of attending a reggae all-nighter. In 1978, they controversially recorded their second album, ‘Give ’Em Enough Rope’, with Sandy Pearlman, producer of American AOR rock group Blue Öyster Cult. Sessions took place in Ladbroke Grove, San Francisco and New York, resulting in the heavy, polished rock of ‘Tommy Gun’, ‘English Civil War’ and ‘Safe European Home’. Meanwhile, The Clash maintained their natural nose for trouble, getting arrested for shooting racing pigeons on the roof of their rehearsal space in Camden Town and later spending the night in the cells after a punch-up with bouncers in Glasgow.
In 1979, the band toured America twice, and it was at a gig at the New York Palladium in September that Simonon smashed his bass in frustration, resulting in the Pennie Smith photo that ended up on the cover of their next album and which is today regarded as the most iconic rock image ever. At the end of the year the group unveiled their masterpiece ‘London Calling’, four sides of vinyl exploring rock’n’roll, soul, jazz, ska, reggae and funk, all given a Clash twist with crisp guitars and culturally evocative lyrics. The album also showcased Simonon’s first composition, the jagged, moody (and later much-sampled) ‘Guns Of Brixton’; Rolling Stone would later famously vote the double as the best album of the ’80s (it was released in the US in January 1980) and it remains at number 8 in the magazine’s Greatest Albums Of All Time.
Trouble, however, was never far away from the group, and in summer 1980 Strummer was arrested in Hamburg for hitting an audience member over the head with his guitar when a gig was disrupted by skinheads unhappy with The Clash’s post-punk musical evolution. Not that The Clash cared: in 1980 The Clash continued to fervently explore new musical avenues (dub, jazz and rockabilly joined the mix), amassing enough material in Jamaica, New York and London for a triple album, ‘Sandinista!’. Released at Christmas 1980, it was headed up by ‘The Magnificent Seven’, the first ever rap record by a British act.
Ironically, as The Clash grew ever more musically daring they became ever more popular, and continued to conquer America with help from further touring and a headline-grabbing, 17-show run at Bond’s Casino in New York’s Times Square in May and June 1981. By now, the group were inviting hip hop acts like The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash to open for them, exposing them for the first time to a mainly white rock audience, and hastening the exciting cross-pollination between rock music and rap.
That year the band sucked in New York’s hip-hop/graffiti art/post-Vietnam vibe for their fifth album, ‘Combat Rock’, recorded at Electric Lady studios on West 8th Street. Yet cracks in the volatile Clash line-up began to show. Drummer Topper Headon had developed a heroin habit and was sacked by the group that May. Within a few months, ‘Rock The Casbah’, the music for which multi-instrumentalist Topper had mostly written, reached the US Top 10. ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ gave The Clash another worldwide smash in 1982, but international chart fame sat uneasily with their idealism and punk roots, and after headlining to a crowd of 150,000 at the Us Festival in California in April 1983 Mick Jones departed from the band –
symbolically, on the eve of that year's Notting Hill Carnival. Paul and Joe re-grouped for a last hurrah with a new line-up, who recorded 1985’s ill-starred ‘Cut The Crap’, featuring the stirring ‘This Is England’, but by the time the LP came out the group had broken up.
In the aftermath of the split, Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite; Strummer experimented with acting and formed the Latino Rockabilly War band, and then in the late ’90s The Mescaleros; Strummer and Jones worked together on Big Audio Dynamite’s second album ’10 Upping St.’. Paul recorded an album with rockabilly-biker group Havana 3am, before becoming a respected oil painter, finally returning to music in 2006 as a member of Damon Albarn’s project The Good, The Bad And The Queen, and then, together with Mick, in the ‘Plastic Beach’ line-up of Gorillaz. Topper, meanwhile, has for the last ten years lived a quiet, healthy existence back in Dover.
Tragically, Joe died suddenly from a congenital heart defect in December 2002, but The Clash’s musical and cultural legacy is immeasurable, not least because their remarkably contrary attitude and astonishing music changed the lives of so many millions of individuals around the world. Today, it all seems a long way from the 1976 Notting Hill riot but The Clash’s example – and songs – will remain forever an inspiration.
Pat Gilbert

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Formed in 1976 in the vanguard of British punk, The Clash would soon become the most iconic rock band of their era, a symbol of intelligent protest and stylish rebellion in the turbulent years of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Just as importantly, they were to become unflinching musical pioneers, integrating first militant reggae, then dub, funk, jazz and hip hop into their music, which has helped to make them one of the most respected and sampled bands by modern DJs and dance musicians.
Eventually cracking the Top 10 in America in 1982, before splitting three years later, they were to leave behind an extraordinary recorded legacy comprising four single albums - ‘The Clash’ (1977), ‘Give ’Em Enough Rope’ (1978), Combat Rock (1982) and ‘Cut The Crap’ (1985) – a magnificent double in their legendary ‘London Calling’ (1979) voted album of the decade by Rolling Stone magazine and a controversial, experimental and musically diverse triple – ‘Sandinista!’ (1980).
The Clash had sparked into life in June 1976 when west London art school drop-outs Paul Simonon (bass) and Mick Jones (guitar) approached Joe Strummer, the singer with an outfit called The 101’ers, to join their new group. Guided by The Clash’s unorthodox and free-thinking manager Bernard Rhodes, the group created the English punk movement with the Sex Pistols. The band’s manifesto was outlined in an early NME interview: “We’re anti-Fascist, we’re anti-violence, we’re anti-racist and we’re pro-creative.”
Rhodes encouraged the band to confront the issues of the day and write about the things that affected them personally – and The Clash rose to the challenge, crafting razor-sharp vignettes of the seedy, edgy world of inner London’s streets in the mid-’70s, referencing tower blocks, drugs, boredom, racism, violence, cheap thrills, trouble with the police… Their first single, ‘White Riot’, was written after Strummer and Simonon had participated in the Notting Hill riots in August 1976, in which blacks fought police in the streets around Paul’s old school.
In January 1977, The band signed to CBS and with drummer Terry Chimes recorded their peerless debut album ‘The Clash’, featuring classic numbers like ‘White Riot’, ‘I’m So Bored Of The USA’ and ‘London’s Burning’. Crucially, the album included The Clash’s interpretation of ‘Police And Thieves’, an underground reggae hit in 1976 for Junior Murvin; the move signalled the group’s admiration for Jamaican music – Simonon in particular was a self-confessed “reggae addict” from his childhood growing up in heavily black neighbourhoods like Brixton and Ladbroke Grove – and solidarity with London’s West Indian population, then the target of what was later admitted to be an "institutionally racist" police force.
Live, The Clash were from the start a volcanic phenomenon, arguably unmatched before or since for their on-stage passion, style and energy. The band’s sharp look was an essential part of their appeal, with their military-cut outfits becoming in the early days billboards for slogans, ideas and lyrics, with “Heavy Manners”, “Sten Guns In Knightsbridge” and “Passion Is A Fashion” emblazoned across them. Meanwhile,
Paul and Joe’s guitars bore buzz-words like “Noise”, “Positive” and “Pressure”.
After their debut album, the classic Clash line-up was completed by Topper Headon, a drumming whiz from Dover who’d learned his chops in soul and jazz bands. His technical prowess allowed The Clash to swiftly evolve from a garage punk band into a group capable of tackling myriad different styles, one of the first examples being the stirring rock-reggae of ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’, Joe’s story of attending a reggae all-nighter. In 1978, they controversially recorded their second album, ‘Give ’Em Enough Rope’, with Sandy Pearlman, producer of American AOR rock group Blue Öyster Cult. Sessions took place in Ladbroke Grove, San Francisco and New York, resulting in the heavy, polished rock of ‘Tommy Gun’, ‘English Civil War’ and ‘Safe European Home’. Meanwhile, The Clash maintained their natural nose for trouble, getting arrested for shooting racing pigeons on the roof of their rehearsal space in Camden Town and later spending the night in the cells after a punch-up with bouncers in Glasgow.
In 1979, the band toured America twice, and it was at a gig at the New York Palladium in September that Simonon smashed his bass in frustration, resulting in the Pennie Smith photo that ended up on the cover of their next album and which is today regarded as the most iconic rock image ever. At the end of the year the group unveiled their masterpiece ‘London Calling’, four sides of vinyl exploring rock’n’roll, soul, jazz, ska, reggae and funk, all given a Clash twist with crisp guitars and culturally evocative lyrics. The album also showcased Simonon’s first composition, the jagged, moody (and later much-sampled) ‘Guns Of Brixton’; Rolling Stone would later famously vote the double as the best album of the ’80s (it was released in the US in January 1980) and it remains at number 8 in the magazine’s Greatest Albums Of All Time.
Trouble, however, was never far away from the group, and in summer 1980 Strummer was arrested in Hamburg for hitting an audience member over the head with his guitar when a gig was disrupted by skinheads unhappy with The Clash’s post-punk musical evolution. Not that The Clash cared: in 1980 The Clash continued to fervently explore new musical avenues (dub, jazz and rockabilly joined the mix), amassing enough material in Jamaica, New York and London for a triple album, ‘Sandinista!’. Released at Christmas 1980, it was headed up by ‘The Magnificent Seven’, the first ever rap record by a British act.
Ironically, as The Clash grew ever more musically daring they became ever more popular, and continued to conquer America with help from further touring and a headline-grabbing, 17-show run at Bond’s Casino in New York’s Times Square in May and June 1981. By now, the group were inviting hip hop acts like The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash to open for them, exposing them for the first time to a mainly white rock audience, and hastening the exciting cross-pollination between rock music and rap.
That year the band sucked in New York’s hip-hop/graffiti art/post-Vietnam vibe for their fifth album, ‘Combat Rock’, recorded at Electric Lady studios on West 8th Street. Yet cracks in the volatile Clash line-up began to show. Drummer Topper Headon had developed a heroin habit and was sacked by the group that May. Within a few months, ‘Rock The Casbah’, the music for which multi-instrumentalist Topper had mostly written, reached the US Top 10. ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ gave The Clash another worldwide smash in 1982, but international chart fame sat uneasily with their idealism and punk roots, and after headlining to a crowd of 150,000 at the Us Festival in California in April 1983 Mick Jones departed from the band –
symbolically, on the eve of that year's Notting Hill Carnival. Paul and Joe re-grouped for a last hurrah with a new line-up, who recorded 1985’s ill-starred ‘Cut The Crap’, featuring the stirring ‘This Is England’, but by the time the LP came out the group had broken up.
In the aftermath of the split, Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite; Strummer experimented with acting and formed the Latino Rockabilly War band, and then in the late ’90s The Mescaleros; Strummer and Jones worked together on Big Audio Dynamite’s second album ’10 Upping St.’. Paul recorded an album with rockabilly-biker group Havana 3am, before becoming a respected oil painter, finally returning to music in 2006 as a member of Damon Albarn’s project The Good, The Bad And The Queen, and then, together with Mick, in the ‘Plastic Beach’ line-up of Gorillaz. Topper, meanwhile, has for the last ten years lived a quiet, healthy existence back in Dover.
Tragically, Joe died suddenly from a congenital heart defect in December 2002, but The Clash’s musical and cultural legacy is immeasurable, not least because their remarkably contrary attitude and astonishing music changed the lives of so many millions of individuals around the world. Today, it all seems a long way from the 1976 Notting Hill riot but The Clash’s example – and songs – will remain forever an inspiration.
Pat Gilbert

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Formed in 1976 in the vanguard of British punk, The Clash would soon become the most iconic rock band of their era, a symbol of intelligent protest and stylish rebellion in the turbulent years of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Just as importantly, they were to become unflinching musical pioneers, integrating first militant reggae, then dub, funk, jazz and hip hop into their music, which has helped to make them one of the most respected and sampled bands by modern DJs and dance musicians.
Eventually cracking the Top 10 in America in 1982, before splitting three years later, they were to leave behind an extraordinary recorded legacy comprising four single albums - ‘The Clash’ (1977), ‘Give ’Em Enough Rope’ (1978), Combat Rock (1982) and ‘Cut The Crap’ (1985) – a magnificent double in their legendary ‘London Calling’ (1979) voted album of the decade by Rolling Stone magazine and a controversial, experimental and musically diverse triple – ‘Sandinista!’ (1980).
The Clash had sparked into life in June 1976 when west London art school drop-outs Paul Simonon (bass) and Mick Jones (guitar) approached Joe Strummer, the singer with an outfit called The 101’ers, to join their new group. Guided by The Clash’s unorthodox and free-thinking manager Bernard Rhodes, the group created the English punk movement with the Sex Pistols. The band’s manifesto was outlined in an early NME interview: “We’re anti-Fascist, we’re anti-violence, we’re anti-racist and we’re pro-creative.”
Rhodes encouraged the band to confront the issues of the day and write about the things that affected them personally – and The Clash rose to the challenge, crafting razor-sharp vignettes of the seedy, edgy world of inner London’s streets in the mid-’70s, referencing tower blocks, drugs, boredom, racism, violence, cheap thrills, trouble with the police… Their first single, ‘White Riot’, was written after Strummer and Simonon had participated in the Notting Hill riots in August 1976, in which blacks fought police in the streets around Paul’s old school.
In January 1977, The band signed to CBS and with drummer Terry Chimes recorded their peerless debut album ‘The Clash’, featuring classic numbers like ‘White Riot’, ‘I’m So Bored Of The USA’ and ‘London’s Burning’. Crucially, the album included The Clash’s interpretation of ‘Police And Thieves’, an underground reggae hit in 1976 for Junior Murvin; the move signalled the group’s admiration for Jamaican music – Simonon in particular was a self-confessed “reggae addict” from his childhood growing up in heavily black neighbourhoods like Brixton and Ladbroke Grove – and solidarity with London’s West Indian population, then the target of what was later admitted to be an "institutionally racist" police force.
Live, The Clash were from the start a volcanic phenomenon, arguably unmatched before or since for their on-stage passion, style and energy. The band’s sharp look was an essential part of their appeal, with their military-cut outfits becoming in the early days billboards for slogans, ideas and lyrics, with “Heavy Manners”, “Sten Guns In Knightsbridge” and “Passion Is A Fashion” emblazoned across them. Meanwhile,
Paul and Joe’s guitars bore buzz-words like “Noise”, “Positive” and “Pressure”.
After their debut album, the classic Clash line-up was completed by Topper Headon, a drumming whiz from Dover who’d learned his chops in soul and jazz bands. His technical prowess allowed The Clash to swiftly evolve from a garage punk band into a group capable of tackling myriad different styles, one of the first examples being the stirring rock-reggae of ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’, Joe’s story of attending a reggae all-nighter. In 1978, they controversially recorded their second album, ‘Give ’Em Enough Rope’, with Sandy Pearlman, producer of American AOR rock group Blue Öyster Cult. Sessions took place in Ladbroke Grove, San Francisco and New York, resulting in the heavy, polished rock of ‘Tommy Gun’, ‘English Civil War’ and ‘Safe European Home’. Meanwhile, The Clash maintained their natural nose for trouble, getting arrested for shooting racing pigeons on the roof of their rehearsal space in Camden Town and later spending the night in the cells after a punch-up with bouncers in Glasgow.
In 1979, the band toured America twice, and it was at a gig at the New York Palladium in September that Simonon smashed his bass in frustration, resulting in the Pennie Smith photo that ended up on the cover of their next album and which is today regarded as the most iconic rock image ever. At the end of the year the group unveiled their masterpiece ‘London Calling’, four sides of vinyl exploring rock’n’roll, soul, jazz, ska, reggae and funk, all given a Clash twist with crisp guitars and culturally evocative lyrics. The album also showcased Simonon’s first composition, the jagged, moody (and later much-sampled) ‘Guns Of Brixton’; Rolling Stone would later famously vote the double as the best album of the ’80s (it was released in the US in January 1980) and it remains at number 8 in the magazine’s Greatest Albums Of All Time.
Trouble, however, was never far away from the group, and in summer 1980 Strummer was arrested in Hamburg for hitting an audience member over the head with his guitar when a gig was disrupted by skinheads unhappy with The Clash’s post-punk musical evolution. Not that The Clash cared: in 1980 The Clash continued to fervently explore new musical avenues (dub, jazz and rockabilly joined the mix), amassing enough material in Jamaica, New York and London for a triple album, ‘Sandinista!’. Released at Christmas 1980, it was headed up by ‘The Magnificent Seven’, the first ever rap record by a British act.
Ironically, as The Clash grew ever more musically daring they became ever more popular, and continued to conquer America with help from further touring and a headline-grabbing, 17-show run at Bond’s Casino in New York’s Times Square in May and June 1981. By now, the group were inviting hip hop acts like The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash to open for them, exposing them for the first time to a mainly white rock audience, and hastening the exciting cross-pollination between rock music and rap.
That year the band sucked in New York’s hip-hop/graffiti art/post-Vietnam vibe for their fifth album, ‘Combat Rock’, recorded at Electric Lady studios on West 8th Street. Yet cracks in the volatile Clash line-up began to show. Drummer Topper Headon had developed a heroin habit and was sacked by the group that May. Within a few months, ‘Rock The Casbah’, the music for which multi-instrumentalist Topper had mostly written, reached the US Top 10. ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ gave The Clash another worldwide smash in 1982, but international chart fame sat uneasily with their idealism and punk roots, and after headlining to a crowd of 150,000 at the Us Festival in California in April 1983 Mick Jones departed from the band –
symbolically, on the eve of that year's Notting Hill Carnival. Paul and Joe re-grouped for a last hurrah with a new line-up, who recorded 1985’s ill-starred ‘Cut The Crap’, featuring the stirring ‘This Is England’, but by the time the LP came out the group had broken up.
In the aftermath of the split, Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite; Strummer experimented with acting and formed the Latino Rockabilly War band, and then in the late ’90s The Mescaleros; Strummer and Jones worked together on Big Audio Dynamite’s second album ’10 Upping St.’. Paul recorded an album with rockabilly-biker group Havana 3am, before becoming a respected oil painter, finally returning to music in 2006 as a member of Damon Albarn’s project The Good, The Bad And The Queen, and then, together with Mick, in the ‘Plastic Beach’ line-up of Gorillaz. Topper, meanwhile, has for the last ten years lived a quiet, healthy existence back in Dover.
Tragically, Joe died suddenly from a congenital heart defect in December 2002, but The Clash’s musical and cultural legacy is immeasurable, not least because their remarkably contrary attitude and astonishing music changed the lives of so many millions of individuals around the world. Today, it all seems a long way from the 1976 Notting Hill riot but The Clash’s example – and songs – will remain forever an inspiration.
Pat Gilbert

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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