HOW TO CLASH ART, MUSIC & STYLE | TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME ROCKER PAUL SIMONON

“Clothes were where my aesthetic instincts came out then. They helped make the group accessible.”

–Paul Simonon

~*~

Back in 1976, it was the wily manager, Bernie Rhodes, who instructed Mick Jones to recruit Paul Simonon into the group that would soon become The Clash, simply because he looked the part. “I was a bit Bowie, a bit suedehead back then,” says Simonon. “And, more importantly, I was at art college. Mick liked that. He was always big on pop history. He knew all about Stuart Sutcliffe, who was Lennon’s best mate in the early days of the Beatles, and a proper artist. I remember Mick introducing me to all his mates– ‘This is my new bass guitarist, Paul. He can’t play but he’s a painter.’”

The rest, as they say, is rock’n’roll history. Together, at Rhodes’s urging, they recruited Joe Strummer to the cause, and the Clash became the coolest punk group on the planet.  When the London punk scene began, Simonon was a fledgling painter, fresh from Byam Shaw art college which, back then, was just up the road in Notting Hill. In the spirit of the times, he  drip-painted his bass guitar in the style of Jackson Pollock and learned how to play by writing out the chords and sticking them on to the instrument’s neck. His reggae-influenced bass playing soon became integral to the group’s sound.

Simonon’s traditionalist approach to painting is surprising given that, within the often volatile creative dynamic of the Clash, he was the conceptualist, the one who paid most attention to the visuals, the image. He painted the backdrop to the Clash’s rehearsal studio, and designed some of the later stage sets, including the dive-bombing Stukas that echoed their often explosive performances. You could tell the Clash were art-school punks from the start, what with those shirts stencilled with slogans and that paint-splashed bass guitar.

“That was the art student in me trying to find a look that would make us stand apart from the Sex Pistols,” he says, laughing. “The Buzzcocks were very Mondrian, and we were Pollock. As a painter, though, I’m essentially old-fashioned. Conceptualism just doesn’t do it for me. I love Walter Sickert, Samuel Palmer, Rubens and Constable. That’s just the way I am. I love putting paint on canvas, getting lost in the process of painting.”

–Sean O’Hagan

The Clash, 1982– Joe Strummer, Terry Chimes, Mick Jones & Paul Simonon.  –photo by Bob Gruen

-

The Clash, 1982– Joe Strummer, Terry Chimes, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon.  –photo by Bob Gruen

-


-

1981, London– Paul Simonon & The Clash on a London street. –Image by © Tim Page/Corbis

-

1979, CA– The Clash on First U.S. Visit –Image by © Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis

-

Paul Simonon onstage with The Clash.

-

Mick Jones, Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon & Topper Headon of The Clash.

-

1981– Paul Simonon of The Clash on a yellow cab–Image by © Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis

-

1982, CA– Mick Jones, Terry Chimes, Joe Strummer, and Paul Simonon of The Clash –Image by © Neal Preston / Corbis

-


-

June 1983, CA– Paul Simonon onstage with The Clash. –Image by © Neal Preston / Corbis

-

Paul Simon, Mick Jones, and Joe Strummer of the Clash

-

1980– Paul Simonon and Clash band mates sitting backstage. –Image by © Corbis

-

Paul Simonon & Joe Strummer of The Clash

-

I saw this pic and immediately assumed it was Paul Simonon of The Clash – the titled hat, rings, face.  Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – it’s his son Louis in an ad for Loewe…

-

1982, USA — The Clash Getting Out of a Car — Image by © Neal Preston/Corbis

-

The Clash, 1982– Joe Strummer, Terry Chimes, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon.  –photo by Bob Gruen

-

New York, 1982–  Andy Warhol and publicist Susan Blond are shown backstage with members of The Clash (Paul Simonon, center, Joe Strummer and Terry Chimes, right) at their epic Shea Stadium show where they opened for The Who. –photo by Epic/Legacy Records

-

1978– Paul Simonon onstage with The Clash at the Rock Against Racism concert.

-

Paul Simonon backstage

-

1979– The Clash perfoming in Boston –photo by Bob Gruen

-

(Lt.) Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon of The Clash –Image by © Mike Laye / Corbis

-

Mick Jones, Terry Chimes, Joe Strummer, and Paul Simonon of The Clash

-

New York, 1982– The Clash (Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Joe Strummer, and Terry Chimes) backstage at the epic ’82 Shea Stadium concert, opening for The Who. –photo by Bob Gruen

-

The Clash backstage in their dressing room –photo by Bob Gruen

-

The Clash in their backstage dressing room –photo by Bob Gruen

-

June 1983, CA– Paul Simonon onstage with The Clash. –Image by © Neal Preston / Corbis

-

The Palladium, NY, 1979– Paul Simonon passionately smashing his bass, used for the epic cover shot of The Clash’s “London Calling” album.  –photo by Pennie Smith

.

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation

1987, Paul Simonon, bass player for the Clash, and Steve Jones, guitarist for the Sex Pistols on motorcycles. — Image by © Lynn Goldsmith

.

RELATED TSY POSTS:

LEGENDARY CLASH STYLE | FROM PUNK ROCK ROUGH TO SARTORIAL SMOOTH

VICIOUS WHITE KIDS | THE SEX PISTOLS TAKE ON ROCK ‘N ROLL & THE SOUTH

THE FILTH & THE FASHION | VIVIENNE WESTWOOD’S ’70s SEX RAG REVOLUTION

POISON IVY OF THE CRAMPS | PSYCHOBILLY GUITAR GODDESS

ROCK & ROLL LEGEND EDDIE COCHRAN | 50 YRS GONE, BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN


17 thoughts on “HOW TO CLASH ART, MUSIC & STYLE | TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME ROCKER PAUL SIMONON

  1. Oh, the memories of coming home exhausted from wrestling practice and listening to “London Calling” loud with my headphones on… Just what a young punk toiling in the 118lb. weight class needed.

  2. The Paul Simonon I met in the late 80′s when Havana 3am played the club where I worked, was a monumental tool. He ran his mouth so much at me that night that I ended up slamming his head into a wall. He almost completely ruined The Clash for me.

  3. Pingback: Top Posts — WordPress.com

  4. Beautiful post, I love Clash. Strummer must to be one of the greatest souls behind the music of 20th century.

  5. Normally, I couldn’t care less about famous men. But I have a huge crush on Paul–beauty, style, talent, swagger, sensitivity…
    FYI, the close-up photo with hat, leather jacket, and ringed hand is not Paul, it’s one of his sons, Louis, in an ad for Loewe.
    Thanks for finding the fabulous pics, as always.

  6. …and David Johansen of the New York Dolls went on stage before the Clash at Shea Stadium…old R’N’R pictures…lipstick traces of a wild party…this blog is just amazing…

  7. Great feature. God, I love The Clash. The kids in my class thought I was weird for digging them in 5th grade. They didn’t know what they were missing. Some “first tastes” stick with you for life. I’m glad The Clash did.

  8. I always thought that was Joe Strummer on the cover of “London Calling”. Thanks for clearing that up.

  9. Paul Simonon is one of the reasons I am who I am. The Clash is one of the reasons I see the world the way I see it, and one of the reasons I am able to say what I see and do something about it.
    PS Long time watcher, first time commenter!! Keep up the good work.

Comments are closed.