London Calling guitar to go on display 40 years after famous Clash stage smash
Written by News on 15/08/2019
Forty years after it was smashed in a fit of anger on stage, one of rock history’s most famous instruments is going on display.
The Clash bassist Paul Simonon destroyed his Fender guitar during a gig in New York in 1979, and an image capturing the moment was used for cover of the band’s third album, London Calling, released later that year.
It went on to be ranked the greatest rock photo of all time.
Now, the wrecked instrument will be displayed at the Museum of London as part of an exhibition of more than 100 personal items, some previously unseen, from the band’s archive.
Late frontman Joe Strummer’s notebook from the period and the typewriter he used to note his ideas and lyrics will also be among the items on show, along with lead guitarist Mick Jones’ handwritten album sequencing note and drummer Topper Headon’s drumsticks.
The Clash mixed punk, reggae, blues and funk and London Calling, which saw the band break the US, explored issues of unemployment, drug use and racial tension.
Simonon smashed his Fender Precision bass at The Palladium in New York City on 21 September 1979, when he realised fans were not being allowed to stand up out of their seats.
“That frustrated me to the point that I destroyed this bass guitar,” he said in an interview with Fender in 2011. “Unfortunately you always sort of tend to destroy the things you love.”
But the musician made sure he gathered the pieces of the guitar to keep.
Beatrice Behlen, senior curator of fashion and decorative arts at the Museum of London, said the venue tells “the stories of our capital through the objects and memories of the people who have lived here”.
She continued: “This display will provide a brand new, exciting and vibrant take on this, showcasing rarely seen personal objects and telling the incredible story of how London Calling was, and for many still is, the sound of a generation.”
The Clash: London Calling, a free exhibit, runs at the Museum Of London from 15 November 2019 to spring 2020.