The Clash, ‘London Calling’


By Pennie Smith
New York, U.S.A., 1979
Silver gelatin print hand signed by the photographer
Open edition
Paper size 20h x 16w inches

The photograph immortalised Simonon’s rage in grainy black and white. It was an emotional response, he later said, to a stiff New York audience that sat all night in their seats and didn’t move. ‘You can’t really tell it’s Paul,’ says Smith. ‘But I guess that’s the point.’ Pennie Smith for The Guardian

‘The Palladium was an all-seat venue and the Clash were used to a more raucous crowd. As the band tried to rally their fans to their feet, the bouncers pressured them back to their seats. ‘That frustrated me to the point that I destroyed this bass guitar,’ explained Paul Simonon in a 2011 interview with Fender. ‘Unfortunately you always sort of tend to destroy the things you love.’ The bass was destroyed utterly. But even on the night, the band seemed to be somehow aware of the significance of the act. ‘Strummer took one of the pieces and was about to walk off with it,’ recalled Simonon. ‘I just grabbed it back and said ‘I think that belongs to me.’ Having briefly loaned it the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Simonon still has the remains of London Calling bass today.’ Alex Baker for Fender

National Portrait Gallery
The Guardian
Brave World

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