London Calling: The Clash Is the Subject of a New Exhibition at the Museum of London
On September 21, 1979, when British punk legends The Clash tried to amp up the crowd at The Palladium in New York, security guards pushed fans back into their seats.
According to guitar-makers Fender, this frustrated Clash bassist Paul Simonon so much that he smashed his cherished Fender Precision bass on the stage, creating possibly the most famous rock ’n’ roll photo opportunity of all time—which would also serve as the cover art for the Clash's groundbreaking third album, London Calling.
To celebrate this December’s 40th anniversary of its release, the Museum of London has curated a free exhibition that features many of the band’s belongings, images, music, and even Simonon’s surprisingly well-preserved broken bass.
It’s not the only iconic instrument on display—you can also see Mick Jones’s 1950s Gibson ES-295, which he used to record the album and the music video for its titular track, and Joe Strummer’s white 1950s Fender Esquire from the same era. And, if you look closely at Topper Headon’s drumsticks, you’ll notice that they’re stamped with the words “Topper’s Boppers.” According to NME, it’s the only item of Headon’s that’s still around from the London Calling days.
The exhibit also includes sketches from artist Ray Lowry that depict scenes from the London Calling tour, photos taken by Pennie Smith (who snapped the London Calling cover image), a doodle-heavy track listing for the four-sided double album written by Jones, and many other items.
And, of course, any rock ’n’ roll display wouldn’t be complete without at least one leather jacket—the Museum of London is showcasing Simonon’s jacket from the late '70s.
If you’re a little farther than a train ride away from London, there’s time to make some travel plans: The exhibit is open until April 19, 2020.