The Clash: London Calling
Museum of London
15 November 2019 – 19 April 2020
The Museum of London is pleased to announce that the highly anticipated The Clash: London Calling, a free exhibit showcasing a collection of over 150 items from The Clash’s personal archive including notes, clothing, images and music, many previously unseen, is now open and free to view until April 19, 2020.
When The Clash’s third album ‘London Calling’ was released in the winter of 1979 it was clear that the band had made an instant classic, an era-defining masterpiece which still stands as one of rock’s all-time greatest albums.
‘London Calling’ was and is a hugely compelling melting pot of musical styles, driven by a passion for action and a fierce political anger, with music and lyrics which remain as relevant today as they were on release. As well as showcasing influences and context for the writing and recording of the seminal double album, this new exclusive exhibit at the Museum of London will also examine how the capital influenced The Clash as they became the most popular British band of the 20th century.
To reflect the band’s diverse range of political, emotional and musical interests a broad range of items are now on show, including:
• Paul Simonon’s broken Fender Precision Bass. The bass was damaged on stage at The Palladium in New York City on 20th September 1979, as Simonon smashed it on the floor in an act of spontaneous and complete frustration
• A handwritten album sequence note by Mick Jones showing the final and correct order for the four sides of the double album ‘London Calling’
• One of Joe Strummer’s notebooks from 1979, the period when the album ‘London Calling’ was rehearsed and recorded. Open at page showing Ice Age, which was to become lyrics for the song ‘London Calling’
• Topper Headon’s drum sticks, which are one of the only remaining items of Headon’s from this time
• The 1950s Fender Esquire used by Joe Strummer during the recording of ‘London Calling’
• Photographs by Pennie Smith featured on the two inner record sleeves of London Calling and taken during The Clash’s ‘Take the 5th’ tour of North America in September and October 1979, printed and shown for the first time
• Original drafts, many never before seen, from cartoonist and artist Ray Lowry’s sketchbooks including the preliminary and final drafts of the artwork for the London Calling album
• Quotes and personal accounts from the members of the band, Don Letts and many other voices from the time
To coincide with the opening of the exhibit today, Sony Music are also releasing the ‘London Calling Scrapbook’ - a limited edition 120-page hardback companion which comes with the album on CD and contains hand-written lyrics, notes, photos and previously unseen material from the period when the record was made. One the same day an anniversary edition double LP will also be released, in a special sleeve - highlighting the layers of the iconic artwork by Pennie Smith and Ray Lowry. A 2CD replicating this is also available, as well as a limited green and pink reissue of the 1979 cassette release.
The anniversary celebration continues on Saturday 14 December when the BFI will present a special screening of ‘The Clash: Westway to the World’ (Don Letts, 2000). The screening will be followed by a discussion with The Clash’s Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, with the film’s director Don Letts.
The Clash: London Calling is curated by Robert Gordon McHarg III with The Clash and Beatrice Behlen of the Museum of London.
Beatrice Behlen, Senior Curator of Fashion and Decorative Arts at the Museum of London, said: “We are very excited to be able to finally share the new free exhibit, The Clash: London Calling with our visitors. ’London Calling’ was The Clash’s defining album, a rallying call for Londoners and people around the world. From deep-diving into the story of the seminal 1979 double album a few things continue to stand out: the breadth of musical styles that influenced the sound, how the lyrics reflected a moment in the city’s history whilst still resonating today and the close-knit working relationship of the band with creative collaborators. These themes, alongside 150 rarely seen objects, will highlight the captivating story of an era defining moment in the capital’s history and we hope fascinate everyone with the story behind ‘London Calling.’”
Robert Gordon McHarg III, The Clash Archivist and Co-Curator of ‘The Clash: London Calling’, said: “1979 was a pivotal year for The Clash and the release of ‘London Calling’ was a defining moment for both The Clash, London and music history. The exhibit will allow visitors to really understand and explore how this came to be through many rarely before seen personal objects and accounts coming together like puzzle pieces to tell the fascinating story of a ground-breaking album.”
The Clash: London Calling is open until 19 April 2020 and is free to view. Its closing in Spring 2020 will be shortly followed by the opening of a brand new display exploring London’s relationship with dub reggae music and culture as part of its Soundclash season at the Museum of London.
Notes for editors
For more press information please contact Emily Brazee, Media Officer at the Museum of London on 020 7814 5502/ 077 1356 5805 or [email protected]
About The Clash
Formed in West London in 1976, The Clash is the most influential band to spring out of the UK punk movement. The classic line up of the band is Joe Strummer on vocals and guitar, Mick Jones also on vocals and guitar, Nick Topper Headon on drums and Paul Simonon on bass. Highly prolific, they released five albums between ’79 and ’82, being The Clash (’77), Give ‘Em Enough Rope (’79), London Calling (double album ’79), Sandinista (triple album ’80) and Combat Rock (’82): see more info at www.theclash.com
About the Museum of London
The Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day. Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.
The museum is open daily 10am – 6pm and is FREE to all, and you can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added. www.museumoflondon.org.uk.
Visitors to The Clash: London Calling exhibit at The Museum of London can use their smartphones to discover more info about the band’s artefacts on display - by scanning the objects through a free app called Smartify.
Extra information includes photos, videos, audio and text written by The Clash: London Calling exhibit curators and other contributors.
Smartify is available to download for free from the App Store and Google Play and can be used at many art galleries and museums in London and internationally.