London’s Calling – The Clash – 1979

London's Calling-the clash-1979One of the original punk songs from one of the first UK punk bands, London’s Calling, released in 1979 was The Clash’s biggest 70s hit.

punk, reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap, rockabilly and politics

The Clash 1Punk, reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap, rockabilly and politics, The Clash combined them all to produce some of the best music of the seventies.

Formed in 1976 with the major players being Joe Strummer (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (lead guitar, vocals), and Paul Simonon (bass guitar, vocals), the band achieved greater commercial success than most their punk rock counterparts.

It began with their album, The Clash, in 1977. By the time their third album, London Calling, was released in December 1979, they’d amassed quite a following. That album was released in Januray 1980 in the US and was rated so highly that ten years later Rolling Stone magazine declared it the best album of the 80s.

The band broke up in 1986.


In January 2003, the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, a year later, Rolling Stone magazine rated them at #28 in their 100 greatest artists of all time list.


Joe Strummer was a committed leftist and that was reflected in the band’s lyrics. They are also credited with pioneering the advocacy of radical politics in punk rock. So much so that New Musical Express magazine called the band, “The Thinking Man’s Yobs.”

an inspiration

Many bands list The Clash as one of their greatest influences.  These artists include: Billy Bragg, Rancid, Green Day, Manic Street Preachers, The White Stripes and The Strokes.

Bono said of The Clash,

They are the greatest rock band. They wrote the rule book for U2.

Jakob Dylan calls London’s Calling,

…the record that changed my life.

The Clash 2london’s calling fax

  • London’s Calling was written by Clash members Joe Strummer and Mick Jones. It was released on December 7 1979—it was the title track of the band’s third album.
  • The title, London’s Calling refers to the station identification for the BBC World Service. “This is London calling …”, was used during World War II, often in broadcasts to occupied countries.
  • London’s Calling peaked at #28 on the UK charts – it did not chart in the US. The band’s highest charting hit was Should I Stay or Should I Go which hit #1 in the UK in 1982.
  • The lyrics to London’s Calling refer to Joe’s concern about world events at the time. In particular it mentions “a nuclear error” which is a reference to the incident at Three Mile Island, which occurred earlier in 1979. There are also references to police brutality.

We ain’t got no swing / Except for the ring of that truncheon thing

  • London Calling was ranked #42 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s and is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
  • At the 2003 Grammy Awards, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, Steven Van Zandt, Pete Thomas, and Tony Kanal performed London’s Calling as a tribute after the death of Joe Strummer. Bruce had earlier offered to join the band at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2002. The band refused to play at the ceremony, however, claiming they did not want to play at a function where seats were upwards of $1,000. They said they’d rather play for their fans.
  • London’s Calling was performed live twice by Bob Dylan during his November 2005 residency at London’s Brixton Academy—he merged the song into Like a Rolling Stone. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band opened with London’s Calling at the Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, London on 28 June 2009.
  • London’s Calling lyrics.

london’s calling – the clash – 1979 – video

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2 Responses to London’s Calling – The Clash – 1979

  1. wozza says:

    Check out Springsteen’s awesome version on his London Calling, Live in Hyde Park DVD. Raw and visceral!!

    • Greg.K. says:

      Have I heard it!!!??!?! It’s fantastic. Being the Springsteen fan that I am I watch it often. The great thing is, our son has inherited the Springsteen-bug and so has purchased all these DVDs.

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