You Say It's Your Birthday: The Clash's Paul Simonon

Today is the 42nd birthday of Paul Simonon, bassist for legendary British

punk-rockers the Clash. Formed in 1976, the Clash is best known for such

songs as "Should I Stay or Should I Go" and "Rock The Casbah." They were

unlike their English punk-peers in that they were rebels with a cause -- a cause

that, by the band's demise in the mid-1980s, had become a total political

and aesthetic agenda. They were also one of the first popular rock acts to

experiment with funk, reggae and the emerging hip-hop scene. The Clash's

first two albums, 1977's self-titled debut and 1978's Give 'Em Enough

Rope, were both solid rock 'n' roll albums but failed to burn up the

charts outside of the U.K. From there, though, the Clash's music grew by

leaps and bounds. 1979's London Calling and the sprawling triple

album that was 1980's Sandinista! solidified the group as a tight

but experimental rock group with leftist political leanings.

By the time the Clash broke in America with 1982's Combat Rock, the

band was essentially a force of the past. In the Reagan/Thatcher '80s, it

was hard to find an audience that wanted to listen to triple albums that

supported leftist rebels in Central America. 1985 brought their

disappointing swan song, Cut The Crap. While fellow Clash-ers Mick

Jones and Joe Strummer went on to relatively successful solo careers,

birthday boy Simonon went on to form Havana 3 A.M. in 1991. A roots-rock

group playing in the face of the grunge explosion, Havana 3 A.M. released

one album and then quietly disbanded. In 1991, the Clash's "Should I Stay or

Should I Go" finally hit #1 on the U.K. charts after being used in a Levi's

commercial.

Other birthdays: Jesse Belvin, 64; Cindy Birdsong (Supremes), 58; Dave

Clark (Dave Clark Five), 55; Harry Ray (Moments/Ray, Goodman and Brown), 51;

Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge), 51; and Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo), 36.