Without him, The Clash would still have been a great band, but with him they became iconic. Paul Simonon was built for rock ‘n’ roll and his cultural influence is felt to this day.
by JAMES MEDD FOR THE RAKE
Photos by Sheila Rock, Bob Gruen.
Simonon was also the band’s only true rebel. His childhood had been divided between time in Brixton with his mother, almost unattended, where “I could come and go as I pleased, which meant playing on the railways, going to people’s houses, a bit of robbing”, and then with his father in Ladbroke Grove, where discipline ruled and he was expected to make two paper rounds a day as well as cook and clean for the household. The contradiction carried over into his attempt to follow his father’s own failed ambition to become a painter, before dropping out after a year at art school.
While the rest of the band worried about politics or stardom, Simonon didn’t waste time on angst. The result was a streak of genuine anarchy, or idiocy, depending on your views on the wisdom of putting your hands over the van driver’s eyes on the motorway, or of demanding a bunny suit as a condition for attending management meetings. In his early days he simply acted the thug or played dumb to avoid dealing with complications. But if he gave it out, he could also take it. Longterm roadie Johnny Green, who had few good words for anyone in the Clash camp by the end of his tenure, said of Simonon: “I’ve rarely met someone who’s cool but can still laugh at themselves.” The Clash #paulsimonon #theclash #punk #punks #punkrock #punksnotdead #joestrummer #mickjones #happybirthdaypaulsimonon #topperheadon
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