The Clash possessed an indefinable chemistry that makes for a great band. Their explosive, uptempo punk-rock manifestos were unleashed with pure adrenaline and total conviction. Following the Sex Pistols’ dissolution in January 1978, the Clash became the central voice of the punk movement and remained at the forefront for five years. Their albums - The Clash (1977), Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978), London Calling (1979), Sandinista! (1980) and Combat Rock (1982) - captured the tumult of the times with unerring instinct and raw power.
Rhythm guitarist Joe Strummer – born John Mellor in Ankara, Turkey, on August 21, 1952 – wrote most of the words and lead guitarist Mick Jones contributed much of the music. Bassist Paul Simonon’s background in painting and sculpture helped shape the band’s aesthetic overview. Topper Headon was a journeyman drummer who found his niche powering the Clash. “As a mix of personalities,” noted writer Lenny Kaye, “the Clash was a perfect engine.” They ran hottest on a concert stage, where all their political zeal and undaunted idealism found expression in music erupted with an exhilarating forcefulness. Lester Bangs described the Clash in concert as “a desperation uncontrived, unstaged, a fury unleashed on the stage and writhing upon itself in real pain that connects with the nerves of the audience.”
Only a month before his untimely death of a heart attack on December 22, 2002, Strummer recalled the Clash onstage in similar terms: “It was like a fireworks display,” he told writer Jon Weiderhorn. “It was like, ‘Bang!’ As soon as that first tune came in it seemed to us like three seconds before we hit the last chord of the last tune. It was like a psychedelic, kinetic blur.” The Clash were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 by u2 guitarist the Edge.
In the clip below, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum VP of exhibitions and curatorial Jim Henke discusses the 1966 Fender Telecaster played by Joe Strummer of the Clash on stage for many of those "kinetic blur" live moments. The guitar is featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland's Cities and Sounds exhibit, in the "London/New York/Los Angeles - Blank Generation: 1975 - 1980" section focused on the development of punk.