Ongoing History Daily: The artwork of the Clash’s London Calling

What is the best rock’n’roll photograph you’ve ever seen?  What picture from the whole of music history best captures the spirit and energy of rock and roll?  One of the very, very best is the cover shot of the Clash’s 1979 album, London Calling.  It features Paul Simonen destroying his bass with a two-hand hammer into the stage. 

The photographer was Pennie Smith, who took this shot at exactly 10:50 EDT on September 21, 1979, at the Palladium in New York City.  How do we know this?  Because in the process of destroying his guitar, Paul also wrecked his watch.  When he walked offstage, he gave Pennie his watch, who noted that it stopped at 10:50 pm.

The last post dealt with the origin of the word “gig.”

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

5 thoughts on “Ongoing History Daily: The artwork of the Clash’s London Calling

  • March 15, 2022 at 7:16 am
    Permalink

    Dude. Did you intentionally use a photoshopped version of this picture featuring Bernie Sanders in a folding chair wearing mittens?

    Reply
    • March 15, 2022 at 8:30 am
      Permalink

      Hah! I was wondering how long it was going to take before someone spotted that. A proper photo has been swapped in.

      Reply
  • March 15, 2022 at 11:05 am
    Permalink

    Didn’t know Bernie Sanders was in attendance.

    Reply
  • March 15, 2022 at 3:21 pm
    Permalink

    I’m not sure if this was an intentional Easter Egg but I love the Bernie Sanders photoshopped into the background. It gave me a good chuckle.

    Reply
  • March 16, 2022 at 5:36 pm
    Permalink

    The London Calling album cover has composition and lettering similar to Elvis Presley’s debut album. Then later on, k.d. lang used the same technique on her compilation album Reintarnation.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.