Trivia / The Clash

  • Author Existence Failure: In late 2002, The Clash were announced as an inductee for the 2003 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The members of the band were planning to perform at the ceremony, and there were rumblings that the reunion wouldn't be a one-off, and that they were planning to get back together for a tour or an album. Unfortunately, Strummer suddenly died a little over a month after the induction announcement and ended any possibility of a reunion.
  • Breakthrough Hit: London Calling and "Train In Vain" were the band's American breakthrough.
  • Canon Discontinuity: For years, Cut the Crap was completely written out of the band's history. Westway to the World, an official and otherwise comprehensive documentary on the band from 2000, stops when Mick Jones left the band in 1983. Likewise, several biographies on the band either glance over the album entirely or give it a brief, begrudging mention, and for years, none of its songs appeared on the band's hits collections. While the album still has a rock-bottom reputation, a reprieve had been given to its well-regarded lead single "This is England" by the time the new millennium rolled around. It appears on the 2003 The Essential Clash compilation, the 2006 Singles Box set and the 2007 The Singles greatest hits album.
  • Chart Displacement: The band's only top 40 hits in the U.S. were "Train in Vain" and "Rock the Casbah", instead of "Should I Stay or Should I Go" (only #43) and "London Calling" (didn't chart).
  • Creator Backlash: Even Joe Strummer himself regretted recording Cut the Crap.
  • Creator Couple: Mick Jones once had a relationship with Ellen Foley, who sang backing vocals on "Hitsville U.K." and their turbulent relationship inspired Jones to write the very popular "Should I Stay or Should I Go". Thanks to the relationship, all four members of The Clash (along with members of Ian Dury And The Blockheads) appeared on Foley's album The Spirit of St. Louis and Jones produced it, credited as "my boyfriend".
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation/Executive Meddling: Upon hearing their debut self-titled album, the suits at their American record label decided that some of the songs would inspire people to rebel, and decided to remove 5 songs and replace them with some of the band's British singles like "Complete Control" and "White Man in Hammersmith Palais". Some critics think this is better, but they are Completely Missing the Point as you could easily make another album of all the singles and B-Sides from this period.
    • What makes this hugely ironic is that the song "Complete Control" is about just that kind of record company nonsense, something that the proves how stupid the label was.
  • Doing It for the Art: The band wanted to provide more music for the fan's money, so they asked the CBS record label to sell the double LP London Calling and the triple LP Sandinista! for the price of just one LP. In both cases, CBS balked, but the Clash managed to make the low price happen anyway. In the case of London Calling, they talked CBS into letting them release an LP with a free 12 inch single included—then, they pressed an entire second LP instead of the single before CBS realized what they were doing. There are conflicting accounts of Sandinista!'s pressing: some sources say they repeated the London Calling trick, but others (including Joe Strummer himself) say the Clash simply compromised with CBS and surrendered the royalties from the first 200,000 copies sold.
  • He Also Did:
    • After Mick Jones left the band, he joined the band General Public (but left shortly after they recorded their first album) and then formed Big Audio Dynamite, one of the more notable early Alternative Rock bands.
    • Paul Simonon joined up with Damon Albarn and other musicians to form the supergroup The Good, The Bad, And The Queen, as well as contributing to virtual group/pseudo-supergroup Gorillaz.
  • Name's the Same: There's another Mick Jones who was also a guitarist, but with Foreigner.
  • No-Hit Wonder: They were famous for a time as the band to have released the most UK singles without ever hitting the singles Top Ten, until the uncharacteristic "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" hit number one after being used in an advert.
  • The Pete Best: Terry Chimes, Keith Levene.
  • Revival by Commercialization: The band used to hold a record for having the most UK hit singles without reaching the Top Ten, which many fans were proud of. Then "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" was used in a TV advert for Levis, got rereleased, and reached Number One.
  • Sequel First: Their first album wasn't released in the US because the record company over there thought it was too controversial. Their second album Give Em Enough Rope was their first released in the US, albeit with the cover text in a different font and the title of the last track changed. After the "I Fought The Law" from The Cost Of Living EP was a hit, the record company wanted to capitalise on its success so they put out a butchered version of their first album in the US including the track and several of their recent singles replacing some of the songs they had deemed controversial. This caused an odd situation where stuff recorded after their second album was included on a rerelease of their first.
  • Throw It In!: The Gratuitous Spanish in "Should I Stay or Should I Go".
    Strummer: On the spur of the moment I said 'I'm going to do the backing vocals in Spanish,'...We needed a translator so Eddie Garcia, the tape operator, called his mother in Brooklyn Heights and read her the lyrics over the phone and she translated them. But Eddie and his mum are Ecuadorian, so it's Ecuadorian Spanish that me and Joe Ely are singing on the backing vocals.
    • This is why a watch alarm can be heard in the second verse of "Rock The Casbah". Topper Headon's Dukes of Hazzard watch had accidentally went off, but the digitized version of the General Lee's horn matched the beat nicely, so they kept it in.
  • Two-Hit Wonder: From a single standpoint, they've only managed to get two songs into the American Top 40, which is two more than most punk bands can hope for. Specifically, their two Top 40 hits are "Train in Vain" which peaked at #23 in 1980, and "Rock the Casbah" which hit #8 two years later. Both songs are classics (especially "Casbah"), but neither is among their two signatures. Those would be "London Calling" (which didn't chart) or "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" (which fell short at #45).
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • "Spanish Bombs". At the time, Spain was still a relatively poor country, recovering from the reign of dictator Francisco Franco. Its tourist industry had only really begun a few years earlier, with cheap flights being an incentive. Over the 30+ years since the song was written, Spain is arguably the most popular non-UK holiday destination for Brits (also causing so many to retire there that there are predominantly British communities in places), and tourism has completely transformed its economy and culture. "Spanish Bombs" captures Spain at a time when there was a lot of uncertainty in the air and this had yet to be realised.
    • "Ivan Meets G.I Joe" is very obviously about the Cold War, and is therefore dated. But nowadays, it's best known as the only song Topper Headon sang vocals on.

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