It's hard to believe The Clash almost never made out the 70s. Despite having released two relatively successful punk albums, the band was broke, deep in debt and had recently lost their manager, Bernie Rhodes. But instead of hitting the panic button, they charged forward with a devil-may-care swagger, featuring a bold new direction that infused elements of rockabilly, reggae, ska, and R&B.
The band's third release, a double album masterpiece, not only broke new ground, but would eventually be hailed as Rolling Stone's #1 Album of the 80s: "London Calling was an emergency broadcast from rock's Last Angry Band, serving notice that Armageddon was nigh, Western society was rotten at the core, and rock & roll needed a good boot in the rear ... the Clash stormed the gates of rock convention and single-handedly set the agenda — musically, politically and emotionally."
Led by the songwriting of Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, and along with bassist Paul Simonon, and Nicky "Topper" Headon on drums, the London-based group refused to be labeled as just another noisy garage band with nothing to say. Far from it. They made social consciousness the focal point of their music, tackling issues such as political corruption, racial tension, class warfare, and drug addiction.
Although ordinary breaking-of-the-band issues (money, fame, drugs, etc.) saw them officially call it quits in 1986, The Clash left behind an extraordinary legacy, influencing scores of other artists that included U2, Artic Monkeys, The Strokes, The Libertines and M.I.A.
Christopher Warner is an actor and freelance writer. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and websites across multiple genres, including World War Two Quarterly, Portland Monthly, and bootsnall.com