The classic line-up of The Clash. From left to right: Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon and Mick Jones.
When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun?The Clash
The Guns of Brixton
, AKA "the only band that matters" were a member of the original British Punk Rock
movement of the '70s known as the "Class of 77". The band stands with the likes of The Ramones
and The Sex Pistols
in the pantheon of definitive punk rock bands. Unlike their peers at the time, however, the Clash were no firm believer of the pure Three Chords and the Truth
ideology: they were not afraid of experimenting with a diverse range of musical styles, and as such were critically acclaimed musically. In addition to no-nonsense stripped-down punk rock, the Clash were known for their eclectic tastes and experimental approach, besides punk being influenced by and performing reggae, dub, ska, funk, pop-rock, New Wave and soul, among others. They were also simultaneously the second rock band to release a rap
track, "The Magnificent Seven" in 1981 (a few months after Blondie
's "Rapture"), and the first British group to perform rap music.
With politicised songs and committed lifestyles ensuring their fame amongst punk rockers, the Clash were unique for their relative musical sophistication, and thus are often thought as "a punk band with a rock-n-roll sound." The band's 1979 album London Calling
serves as their Magnum Opus
, often hailed as one of the finest punk rock records (and rock/popular music in general) ever recorded — it is the highest rated punk album of all time in Rolling Stone's list, i.e. the popular yardstick. Also, at one point it was awarded as the best album of the '80s
, despite having been released in December 14th, 1979, though this is true for the American release. The band's reputation of not being total assholes
in interviews and their strong respect for their audience only adds to the vast amount of richly deserved respect directed at the group.
The band broke up in 1986 after a ten year career and went onto other projects. Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite and Strummer embarked on a solo career (including some time fronting The Pogues
) before founding the Mescaleros. Paul Simonon contributed to the Gorillaz
album Plastic Beach
. There were sporadic collaborations and ad-hoc performances by various combinations of the original lineup but no full reunion ever came about and the death of Strummer in 2002 laid to rest any hope of a reformation.
Principal Members (Founding members in bold):
- Terry Chimes - drums, percussion (1976, 1977, 1982-1983)
- Rob Harper - drums, percussion (1976-1977)
- Nicholas "Topper" Headon - drums, percussion, piano, bass, backing and lead vocals (1977-1982)
- Pete Howard - drums, percussion (1983-1986)
- Mick Jones - guitar, lead vocals, piano, harmonica (1976-1983)
- Keith Levene - guitar (1976)
- John Mellor (Joe Strummer) - lead vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica, bass (1976-1986, died 2002)
- Nick Sheppard - guitar, backing and lead vocals (1983-1986)
- Paul Simonon - bass, backing and lead vocals, guitar (1976-1986)
- Gregory "Vince" White - guitar (1983-1986)
Studio and Live Discography:
- 1977 - The Clash
- 1977 - Capital Radio
- 1978 - Give 'Em Enough Rope
- 1979 - The Cost Of Living
- 1979 - London Calling
- 1980 - Sandinista!
- 1982 - Combat Rock
- 1985 - Cut The Crap
- 1999 - From Here To Eternity: Live note
- 2008 - Live At Shea Stadium note
Tropes associated with The Clash: