The Clash (Nicky ('Topper') Headon; Mick Jones; Joe Strummer; Paul Gustave Simonon)

1 portrait of Mick Jones

The Clash (Nicky ('Topper') Headon; Mick Jones; Joe Strummer; Paul Gustave Simonon)

by Pennie Smith
bromide fibre print, 1977
16 in. x 12 in. (405 mm x 305 mm)
Purchased, 1999
Photographs Collection
NPG x87825


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Formed in London in 1976, The Clash comprised vocalist Joe Strummer, guitarist Mick Jones, bass player Paul Simonon and drummer Terry Chimes, soon to be replaced by Topper Headon. The songs on their 1977 debut album 'The Clash' were inspired by the political disenchantment and social unrest rife throughout Britain in the late 1970's. Early Clash gigs were notoriously violent occasions and the group's cult status was fuelled by music press hysteria which established them as the leading voice of the Punk Rock movement. They rejected the effective censorship placed upon them by music industry money-men and preached the virtues of punk's do-it-yourself approach to being creative. Subsequent albums 'Give 'Em Enough Rope' (1978), 'London Calling' (1979), 'Sandinista' (1980) and 'Combat Rock' (1982) combined an eclectic range of musical styles and saw the band tackle controversial subject matter on a global scale. A series of epic world tours established their status as one of the greatest live acts in rock history. The acrimonious departures of Jones and Headon by 1983 and 1985's lacklustre release 'Cut The Crap' marked an underwhelming finale to The Clash's existence. Re-released in 1991 after appearing in a television commercial, the 'Combat Rock' single 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' became the band's first UK number one. Rumours of a reunion continued until the sudden death of Strummer in 2002. The Clash were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

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  • Hoare, Philip; Pepper, Terence, Icons of Pop, 1999 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 4 June -19 September 1999), p. 51

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