The Clash guitar to get museum display 40 years after being smashed on stage

The Clash guitar to get museum display 40 years after being smashed on stage

One of rock history’s most famous instruments is going on display – in smashed pieces.

The Clash guitar will go on show 40 years after it was trashed in a fit of anger on a New York stage.

Paul Simonon, bassist with the Should I Stay Or Should I Go punk pioneers, wrecked the instrument in 1979.

An image capturing the moment made the cover of the band’s album London Calling and has been ranked the greatest rock photo of all time.

Joe Strummer’s note book (The Clash/PA)
Joe Strummer’s note book (The Clash/PA)

Now, the Museum Of London is celebrating the album with an exhibition of more than 100 personal items from the band’s archive.

Notes, clothing, images and music are among the items, many of them previously unseen, to go on display in November.

The Clash embraced reggae, blues and funk and London Calling, which sparked success for the band in the US, explored issues of unemployment, drug use and racial tension.

At the Museum Of London, late co-frontman Joe Strummer’s notebook from the period will go on show, along with the typewriter he used to put down ideas and lyrics.

Topper Headon’s drum stick (The Clash Archive/PA)
Topper Headon’s drum stick (The Clash Archive/PA)

Mick Jones’ handwritten album sequencing note and Topper Headon’s drumsticks will be on display.

Simonon smashed his Fender Precision bass at The Palladium in New York City on September 21.

“I just got so frustrated … and when it got to breaking point I started to chop the stage up with the guitar,” he later said.

However, he regretted breaking a favourite instrument, saying: “I gathered all the pieces up and kept them.”

The Clash outside Wessex Studios during the recording of London Calling in 1979 (Pennie Smith/PA)
The Clash outside Wessex Studios during the recording of London Calling in 1979 (Pennie Smith/PA)

Beatrice Behlen, senior curator of fashion and decorative arts at the museum, said: “London Calling is The Clash’s defining album, a rallying call for Londoners and people around the world.

“The album’s lyrics reflected contemporary concerns, many of which are still relevant today, as it moved away from traditional punk by adopting and reworking much wider musical influences.

“At the Museum Of London, we tell the stories of our capital through the objects and memories of the people who have lived here.

“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 November 15 2019 to spring 2020.

- Press Association

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