The CLASH were, perhaps one of the last great British rock bands of the eighties. When guitarist Mick Jones was abruptly sacked in August '83 the band were on the verge of breaking into Rock's super-league, alongside artists like The Who, Stones or Springsteen. How ironic then that their roots can be traced back to a seedy little squat in West London around 1976, when Jones, an art school drop-out, and a mate called Paul Simenon, first meet Joe Strummer(John Mellor) outside the local D.H.S.S. Mick had met Paul just as his first band, the London SS, had split up.

Jones began to teach Simenon how to play the bass guitar and by early '76 they began the search for a vocalist. Joe Strummer in a local R&B band called the 101'ers who were quite well known on the pub and club circuit. Mick had seen him a couple of times and decoded he was perfect for the job.They ran into each other a short while later when Mick told Strummer exactly what he thought of him. In April '76 the Sex Pistols supported the 101'ers one night and Strummer saw the error of his ways. The same night he split the band up and joined Mick and Paul in the cosy comfort of their squat. The CLASH were born. In june they played their first gig, in Sheffield, supporting the Pistols, with Keith Levine on second guitar, and a mate named Terry Chimes filling in on drums temporaly.

By some irony it was the first time Levine had met Johnny Rotten, neither knowing they would one day work together in PIL. By late '76 both the CLASH and the Pistols had staked their claim as forerunners in the Punk Rock movement and by January '77 the CLASH, now without Levine, signed a record deal with CBS records reputedly worth £100,000.This was to prove a controversial move for a band who so despited the corporate workings of such a major organisation as this. Some called it "the day Punk died", and perhaps it was, but from the day they signed the deal to the day they split up, their relationship was stormy to say the least.

On the 18th of March their debut single was released and a couple of weeks later their first album also released. 'The Clash' was a true classic by any standarts.

Largely consisting of Strummer and Jones originals such as '48 Hours' and 'Garageland' it also contained an inspired cover version of Junior Murvin's recent reggae hit 'Police and Thieves'. The LP made a better impact on the charts than 'White Riot' did inthe single chart. 27th April, first French gig in Paris at "Le Palais Des Glaces" supported by Subway Sect. Arrangements were made for a nationwide tour, commencing on May 1st in Guildford . Before the tour there had been a change in the line up when Chimes had decided that enough was enough and left. Auditions were held and out of some 200 applicants came Topper Headon. With the new line up complete the CLASH toured the UK and Europe constantly for the next 12 months, confirming their place as one of the most exciting live Rock bands of that time.
Hot on the heels of the first album came a string of classic singles throughout '77 and '78, but major chart sucess still eluded them, a fact which didn't really worry the band who recognised the loyalty of their fans. Often they would announce the name of the hotel they were staying in to fans at their concerts, soin the event of them not being able to get home that night they would have somewhere to sleep. They also made a point of keeping ticket prices down to a minimum, often losing money in the process, which in turn meant CBS footing the bill. May '78, 1st "Rock Against Rascim Festival"(Hackey) with the CLASH, Sham 69,etc...November '78 saw the release of their second album 'Give 'Em Enough Rope', which was critically acclaimed in most corners, so much so that it crashed into the British charts at number 2.
The FM tinted production of the record gave them the perfect platform to start their first American tour and, as a gesture to their new audience, they opened their first show with the classic 'I'm So Bored With The USA'.
By mid '79 their first two albums had been released Statside, differing in various ways from the British versions. Firstly the lettering on the cover of the British version of 'Rope' was in Chinese graphics, and the track listing on the american version of 'The Clash' differed from it's British counterpart. A free 7" demo single was also inclued with this version, coupling 'Groovy Times' with 'Gates Of The West'. May '79 saw the band's first taste of British chart sucess when they released 'The Cost Of Living' EP. The record made the top 20, with 'I Fought the Law' getting a lot of airplay on national radio.

In December '79 their new album was completed and ready for release. 'London Calling' was a double album which covered a number of styles from Reggae to mainstream rock. Of all their albums it is probably their most accomplished and proved so by doing well here and abroad.

In '90 Rolling Stone Magazine voted the record as the best album of the 80s, a credit to any band indeed! The title track was released as a single at the same time, in 7" and 12" formats and was the most sucessful single of their career, charting at number 11 in the UK. The 16 Tons Tour of Britain started in early '80 and by summer they were back in the USA. Things were starting to happen there when 'Train In Vain' made the Top 30 in the American singles chart, the track was from 'London Calling' but was not credited on he sleeve listing.
Work on the new album started in New York and by December '80 'Sandinista!' was released. It was a triple album housed in a single sleeve to keep the retail price down as much as possible, and as a result of this, the band had to sell 200,000 copies before they made a penny. The critics had a field day, slamming the record as "self indulgent", but with hindsight there were some inspired moments on the record, which covered a melange of musical styles from Dub Reggae, Rap and Calypso to Rockabilly, Gospel and straight ahead Rock.

Of the three singles released from the album the most sucessful was 'The Magnificent Seven', which made the Top 40 in Britain in April '81. That year was relatively quiet for the band, the main event being a seven night stint at Bonds nightclub on Times Square in New York which, after a misunderstanding over ticket sales, turned into a sixteen night stay. Meanwhile 'Sandinista!' had done well in the American charts maintaining a lengthy stay in the Top 40, growing evidence of the band's popularity in the country.


In October a British tour was due to start, a tour which saw the band recieve some of the worst criticism of their career. Critics accused the band of sloppiness and complacency and also of becoming American exiles. It was clear that THings had gotten a little stale and perhaps the band had got caught up in the trappings of the 'Rock and Roll' lifestyle, and with American influences rubbing off on them, this led to some quarters dubbing them 'The Rolling Clash'.
In early '82 the band were putting the finishing touches to a new album, following this with tours of Japan and Australia. A new British tour was announced for the spring, however, just over the horizon loomed a large nightmare, started by the disappearance of Strummer on the eve of the first date.
IThe first single to be taken from the new album, 'Know Your Rights', was released in april but still the singer was nowhere to be seen. The tour was cancelled and his disappearance overshadowed the sucess of 'Combat Rock' which had stormed into the UK album charts at number 2. By end of May he had been found in Paris with his girl friend and he was persuaded to come back home. Topper Headon left, giving the political direction of the band as his reason for going. Terry Chimes returned on a temporary basis and the band toured the States and finally returned to Britain in June to play the rescheduled dates. 'Combat Rock' was acclaimed as the best CLASH album in years and a single, 'Rock The Casbah', put them back into thetop 20 in the UK.
In early '82 the band were putting the finishing touches to a new album, following this with tours of Japan and Australia. A new British tour was announced for the spring, however, just over the horizon loomed a large nightmare, started by the disappearance of Strummer on the eve of the first date.
In America the album took six months, from June until Christmas, to make the top 10 and by 1983 it had gone platinum. They had further sucess when 'Should I Stay Or should I Go' made the top 20 both sides of the Atlantic, and, with the sales of 'Sandinista!' finally reaching the 200,000 mark, the band finally began to find their way out of the financial jungle with CBS.

In October they were asked to support The Who at the Shea Stadium in New York on their farewell tour. The idea of the CLASH playing "the new boss" to the Who's "old boss" repulsed some the fans who hopped the band wouldn't become middle-aged buiness men with guitars and drums, so perhaps it was a blessing in disquise when Strummer kicked Jones out of the band in August '83. Chimes had also left by now and so far as I was concerned the CLASH died that day, much as I admired and even worshipped Strummer, I never forgave him for draging the name of CLASH around for the next two years with such inadequate replacements....