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The Clash: They formed in 1976 from singer/guitarist Joe Strummer's outfit The 101'ers and London SS. The latter had just split, with some joining Strummer and others going into The Damned. Management hopeful Bernard Rhodes had been trying to get London SS to change their name anyway because it offended his mother, a European refugee.
Strummer told writer Jon Savage: "For about a week we were the Psychotic Negatives, then The Weak Heartdrops, after a Big Youth lyric, then Paul [Simonon] thought of the name The Clash." (Big Youth inspired Sonic Youth.)
Simonon, on the liner notes to The Clash On Broadway, recalls that the discarded possibilities included The Mirrors, while author Marcus Gray adds they rejected The Phones and The Outsiders.
Simonon told MTV in 1991: "It came to my head when I started reading newspapers and a word that kept reoccurring was the word 'clash', so I thought 'the Clash, what about that,' to the others."
It's often incorrectly reported on the Web that it's "thought" (thought by whom?) that the name came from a specific Evening Standard headline about "A Clash With Police."
The Internet bloggers suggest too that "it's largely believed" (again, by who?) that the Clash took it from a track by Jamaican band Culture called Two Sevens Clash. It's true the Clash liked reggae. Still, the Culture album was only released in 1977 (its release date being 7.7.77, hence the name) – more than a year after the Clash was christened.
Strummer liked the word because it was short. As they became a leading group, they realised the name meant Clash not just as in a mild shock-horror headline. They were fed up with the bloated state of music and U.K. politics, as expressed in the 1980 factional film Rude Boy, countless songs and the name Tory Crimes.
Related: Real Westway, Big Audio Dynamite. Inspired Four Horsemen.
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