I remember walking into Krazy Kelly’s on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg to see the Clash’s new album, London Calling, racked right up front. Plastered on the shrinkwrap was a sticker that read “The Only Band That Matters.”
“Cheeky,” I thought, as I picked up the album and headed to the cash. I’d heard of the Clash but had passed on their first two albums. But since they seemed to matter more than any other band in the store, I didn’t want to be left out.
It wasn’t until much later that I began to wonder about that appellation. Who came up with it? Thirty-five years after the release of London Calling, UPROXX gets to the root of the matter.
Thirty-five years ago yesterday, the Clash screwed up a lot of best-of lists when they releasedLondon Calling, one of the greatest punk albums of all-time (and it might not even be the Clash’s finest accomplishment). There are remembrances on the record in all its (death or) glory scattered around today, many of which mention the Clash being “The Only Band That Matters.” It’s a label that’s been attached to them since the 1970s, but where did it come from?
Unsurprisingly, it was a pre-Internet case of #branding.
Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Keith Levene, and Terry Chimes made their debut as the Clash on July 4, 1976, on a bill with Sex Pistols in Sheffield. Less than a year later, and thanks to an explosion in punk’s popularity, CBS Records signed the group for £100,000. They were immediately billed as sell-outs, despite having only played a couple dozen gigs.