Facts about The Clash

Born: 1976
Died: 1986
Birthplace: London, England
Best known as: The punk band who did "London Calling"


The Clash Biography

Hard-hitting songs like “London Calling” and “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” made The Clash one of the most famous punk bands of the late 1970s and early ’80s. Once too radical for radio, The Clash became a pillar of modern-day rock. The band’s members were: Joe Strummer (b. John Mellors, 21 August 1952, Ankara, Turkey, d. December 2002), guitar and vocals; Paul Simonon (b. 1956, London), bass; Mick Jones (b. 26 June 1955, London), guitar and vocals; and Nicky Headon (b. 1956, Dover, England), drums. The Clash was formed in 1976 (at the time with drummer Terry Chimes) and released their self-titled debut album in 1977. Songs such as “White Riot” combined the energy of hard rock with angry social consciousness, and the album became a favorite of the critics. With a sturdy following in the U.K., The Clash toured the United States in the late ’70s and released their 2-LP set London Calling (1979), now considered by many to be their best (it included “Train in Vain (Stand by Me),” a hidden track that reached the top of the U.S. charts). The triple-album Sandinista (1980) proved The Clash still had a bone to pick with corruption and injustice, and revealed a variety of musical influences that included ska, dub and reggae. Amid rumors that co-songwriters Strummer and Jones weren’t getting along, they released Combat Rock (1982) to great success — and accusations by hardcore fans that they had sold out. The album spawned the hits “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah” and the band headlined big festivals and arena shows. In 1982 Headon was replaced by original drummer Chimes, and in 1983 Jones left the band (and went on to form the group Big Audio Dynamite). With a new lineup, Strummer and Simonon forged on with Cut the Crap (1984), but the band was officially finished by 1986. After working on the compilation The Essential Clash, Strummer died in 2002, just a few months before the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their other tunes include “(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais,” “Lost in the Supermarket” and “Clash City Rockers.”

Extra credit

Joe Strummer’s real name was John Mellors… The Clash were featured in the punk movie classic Rude Boy (1980), and Strummer co-starred with Courtney Love and Elvis Costello in the 1987 film Straight to Hell… Heaton was jailed in 1987 for his role in a friend’s fatal heroin overdose.


Related Biographies

Something in Common with The Clash