Say It's Your Birthday: The Clash's Topper Headon

Today is the birthday of the Clash's drummer Topper Headon. Second

only to the Sex Pistols in popularity, the Clash left a far greater

legacy, a series of truly awesome albums beginning with The

Clash. The group was formed by guitarist and singer Joe Strummer,

guitarist and singer Mick Jones, bassist Paul Simonon, and drummer

Terry Chimes­­later replaced in 1977 by Headon. They first gained

national recognition opening for the Sex Pistols, the other major

British punk band. But unlike the Pistols, the Clash had a

straightforward earnestness to go with their punk anger. Their music

was similarly simple, loud and abrasive­­but the Clash were far more

political, offering political and social commentary in songs like "I'm

So Bored With the U.S.A." and 'White Man in Hammersmith Palais."

In

December 1979, The Clash released London Calling, a critically

acclaimed double album that found them expanding their musical style

from punk to a more eclectic approach. The album spawned a single in

the title single, which became their biggest UK single during their

existence; "London Calling" reached number eleven on the charts,

while the album hit number nine in Britain, and was their first real

US success at number 27. Sandinista! a triple-LP set released

in December 1980 took their eclecticism to new heights. The album got

to a disappointing #19 in Britain, but was a surprisingly strong #24

in the United States. Their next effort, Combat Rock, was a

straightforward rock collection that was their last album with the

original personnel. It was also their most popular. It hit #2 in the

UK, and #7 in the US, where it sold a million copies. The album

contained the hit single "Rock The Casbah" which was a hit on both

sides of the Atlantic. Meanwhile Headon left the band in July 1982,

and Jones was fired by Strummer and Simonon in September 1983. Jones

formed Big Audio Dynamite, while Strummer and Simonon reorganized and

added new members, releasing Cut The Crap in the fall of 1985.

By the start of 1986, all the crap was cut, and the Clash were no

more.

It is also the birthday of Tim Burgess (Charlatans), Marie

Fredericksson (Roxette), Pete Way (UFO/Fastway) and Lenny Davidson

(Dave Clark Five).