(Released 14th December,1979)


List of songs :

1 London Calling                               

2 Brand New Cadillac

3 Jimmy Jazz

4 Hateful                                          

5 Rudie Can't Fail                                 

6 Spanish Bombs                                  

7 The Right Profile                               

8 Lost In The Supermarket                        

9 Clampdown                   

10 The Guns Of Brixton                          

11 Wrong 'Em Boyo                         

12 Death Or Glory                                

13 Koka Kola                                     

14 The Card Cheat                               

15 Lover's Rock                                  

16 Four Horsemen                                

17 I'm Not Down                                

18 Revolution Rock                               

19 Train In Vain





      London Calling was conceived and recorded at 36 Causton Street, off Vauxhall Bridge Road in Pimlico, London between May and August 1979.

      " Then we struck lucky. It was called Vanilla, and it came from just another small-ad. It was in Causton Street, down by the river, near Vauxhall Bridge."  

     (A Riot of Our Own,p.156).


A converted rubber factory / car repair shop that was now called Vanilla Studios. It was a drive-in-garage-type place. There were mechanics and parked cars and fumes.

In the early 1990's the site was developed and a church building placed there. The London Diocesan House now stands on the site.



                        Leaving Pimlico underground, follow the road towards Causton Street straight ahead of you; cross the Vauxhall Bridge Road and the White Swan pub will be on your left. The cafe, with the yellow blind, can be seen in the distance on the right.




The White Swan Pub is on the corner of Causton Street. Walk down Causton St. and follow the road round on the left to Vanilla Rehearsal studios.




The present owner.


               Looking onto the main road from inside the small intimate Cafe. The owner's father would often serve The Clash band during their stay round the corner at Vanilla Rehearsal studios, Causton Street.

During 2011 the cafe changed to become The Rocks


Vanilla Studios dated 1984

The original garage building housed The Clash band during their LONDON CALLING sessions.

The original garage building no longer exists in Causton Street but instead stands....                       




           Vanilla Rehearsal Studios, Pimlico, London was a seedy but clean and long thin room upstairs, measuring thirty yards by ten. Everyone had a very workman-like attitude and ideas were worked on, but they wouldn't work on a song for hours.

" The gear was set up at one end of the room, as if the band were playing a small show, like at Rehearsals."

(A Riot of Our Own, p.158)

Between May and August, 1979 the songs were written from scratch / jam for a few hours / play football / return and jam again / they'd do a song for a while and then they'd drop it and go onto something else.




Vanilla Plan details can be found by clicking on the thread below:



The playground exists where football matches were performed with great enthusiasm, an hour every day of football was played in the fenced-in, asphalt covered tennis court over the road. (A Riot of Our Own, p.161)



    " While Robin was a good player in any position-a ruthless defender or a forward with the finishing power and class of Denis Law."  (A Riot of Our Own, p.162)

(Joe Strummer playing football during a break from the London Calling sessions at Vanilla Studios)


Just around the corner was the "egg mayo sandwich" cafe where the members became 'fixtures' within walking distance of the Pollock images at The Tate Gallery, Vauxhall Bridge and the River Thames.

(A Riot of Our Own, p.157)



                     " All the time the work went on and the music was honed. This routine became daily life for us for nearly three months." (A Riot of Our Own , p.162)

The Tate Gallery.


The new material was road tested at the Notre Dame Hall, off Leicester Square on the 5th and 6th July, 1979.                           (A Riot of Our Own, p.165)


The Clash recorded London Calling at Wessex Studios, 106A Highbury New Park, a former Victorian Church Hall hidden from the street by St.Augustine's Church, which it was originally built to serve between Islington and Stoke Newington (nearby Clissold Park), with Bill Price and Guy Stevens. The Wessex sessions commenced at the beginning of August 1979 and the recording of the album took four weeks to complete.............. with a range of techniques used.

                                Guy died on August 29th 1981 at the age of 38 years old having overdosed on the prescription drugs he was taking to reduce his alcohol dependency. Back in 1963,THE SCENE, a Ham Yard basement, at number 41, Great Windmill Street, Soho, London (opposite the notorious Windmill Theatre) was where Guy Stevens spun the coolest R & B records in town.









Wessex Recording Studios: Studio One to the right, Studio Two to the left, Recreational Room up the fire escape.

It had been converted into a studio during the Sixties by a family who originated from Bournemouth, Wessex, hence the name. A 4-track facility, it was largely used for live recordings and boasted a room large enough to accommodate extra session players and even full orchestras.





Modern day views of Wessex Studio.



During the London Calling sessions, Mick Jones was living at 5,Simon Close just off the Portobello Road, W10 where the road narrows as you cross Westbourne road followed by Chepstow Villas.Caroline Coon had found him the property in April 1979.

(Simon Close is on the right side where the tree stands tall)



Viv Albertine of the Slits moved into 5, Simon Close in spring 1979, but the relationship ended over the summer. Mick was heart broken and wrote 'Train in Vain' in memory of this relationship which was recorded on the evening of Sunday, 11th November 1979.


Guy Stevens lived at 23c Gloucester Avenue with his wife before moving to Swiss Cottage to live with his mother.




'On the route of the 19 bus '   

          From the World's End to Wessex studios, and the experience of high-rise life was recounted in 'Lost In The Supermarket.' The supermarket in question is located beneath the flats, next to the car park.'

The Supermarket in question was 'The International' located at 471-473 Kings road beneath the World's End Estate, 31 Whistler Walk was where Joe lived at the time with his girlfriend Gaby Salter, her two younger brothers and her mother.

'The song opens with Strummer's clearly autobiographical memories of his parents' home in suburban Warlingham, with a hedge 'over which I never could see.'

Joe sat in the front room of the flat at World's End, looking out at Edith Grove and wrote about the state of the world in 'London Calling'........Strummer acts as an observer of the resultant winter-world of the apocalypse.


'Rudie Can't Fail ' ........a Rude Boy is a teenage thug. The Rudies had been a popular part of ska and reggae culture...... appearing in the lyrics of many Jamaican songs.

'Spanish Bombs' was written as a result of travelling home from Wessex Studios late one evening, Strummer and Gaby Salter were talking about the Basque separatists in Spain who were engaged in a bombing campaign against various holiday resorts on the Costa Del Sol.

'The Right Profile ' was based on the Method actor Montgomery Clift and a tribute to The Clash's producer, Guy Stevens.


 Pennie Smith (NME) took the photograph at the Palladium in New York city.

The most enduring Clash image is that of a legs-akimbo Simonon smashing his bass guitar in frustration against the stage, providing Pennie Smith with an irresistible photo-opportunity, immortalised on the front cover picture of the band's album, London Calling, one of the most recognisable and enduring of rock'n'roll icons.

   As Paul Simonon advanced towards her with his Fender Precision bass aloft, she managed to squeeze off two shots before diving out of the way.

New York Palladium 21.9.79 :                     

    " New York brought its own brand of intensity (p.195).....I looked back on-stage to see Simonon clutch his bass neck and start smashing it on the floor like he was chopping wood."                  

(A Riot of Our Own,p.196)


Ray Lowry designed the cover :                                                                 

 " He put down his doodlings of ideas for the cover of London Calling, always trying to make the connection with Elvis, the Beatles, the flame-carriers of rock'n'roll."                            

(A Riot of Our Own,p.194)


" And 'Train in Vain' never made it on to the cover. The song was whacked out at the last minute. Mick had arrived with the song on the day that the Baker and I were packing up the equipment...The song was taught, learnt and recorded there and then."                       (A Riot of Our Own,p.218)




                  The cover of "London Calling" is very similar to Elvis' first album in March 13,1956 with the green and pink lettering.

Just discovered your incredibly detailed Clash website.  Can't believe all the information you have collected. Thought you might be interested to learn that one of the most famous of all Clash images, that of Paul Simonon smashing his bass at the Palladium in New York City, has been inaccurately reported as occurring on September 21, 1979 (that's what the London Calling credits say) but this Pennie Smith photograph was in fact taken the night before on the 20th - the first of the two Palladium shows that September.
Thought you might want to update your records.

I was at the Palladium show on the 20th (I have my stub), and witnessed Paul's bass smash THAT night. This album credit inaccuracy has bothered me for 35 years! It has been my mission the past several months to prove the correct date - and I have now gathered photographic, video, and even audio evidence that PROVES the album credits are wrong, and that the London Calling cover photo was indeed taken September 20th, 1979.  

The facts:
The guitar Paul smashed had the word PRESSURE stenciled or painted on it (photos of the smashed bass are easily found online. See link below)

Yet uploader "Mydeathlok" YouTube video shot 9/21 taken from an ABC "20/20" documentary on new wave/punk rock (the exact date of this video is confirmed via Paul Morley's NME review at the time. This review can be found on the Black Market Clash website) CLEARLY shows Paul playing a bass WITHOUT the word "pressure" - (because he smashed that one the night before, on the 20th.). Link:

(Even the person who uploaded this video makes a point to say it was the show AFTER the bass smash.)

Interestingly Joe's SHIRT proves the actual date of the photo...

On the 21st Joe is wearing a solid BLUE shirt as the video referenced above, as well as "drugstabbingtime" video from 9/21 below indicates. 

However, EVERY PHOTO FOUND ONLINE TAKEN ON SEPTEMBER 20th shows Joe wearing a pink/purple shirt with abstract white lines AND IMPORTANTLY, a BLACK BREAST POCKET.  

See Ebet Roberts photo below:

See Eileen Colton photos below:
Both Ebet and Eileen have confirmed to me via email they took their photos on September 20th, 1979.

This same black pocket shirt is visible in Pennie Smith's own photographic contact sheet of the before and after moments surrounding the bass SMASH, which was included in the booklet that came with the 25th anniversary "legacy edition" reissue of London Calling. (I feel uncomfortable including Pennies photo without her permission, but hopefully you have a copy of this booklet that came with the CD and will clearly see Joe's black pocketed shirt.)

Also, besides the photos and video that prove the date was September 20th, there is AUDIO (found on the guitars 101 bootlegs website) from 9/20 where you can actually hear the thumps of the guitar smash. And if you listen to the entire 9/20 show it is evident that that show was not nearly as good as the 9/21 "WNEW" show, and it was Paul's frustration with the performance and poor audience reaction, that caused him to smash his guitar. 

Finally, the 9/21 concert happened to have been broadcast live over WNEW-FM, and WNEW DJ's (richard neer and Pam merly) make NO MENTION of seeing the smash in their post concert commentary on the 21st.

9/20 audio of white riot below:


Hope these facts set the record straight. Thx

Dave Marin
New York (13.12.14)

Here's the ad for their two September 1979 New York Palladium concerts:

And here's the ad for their earlier February show:



" The Clash wanted to play their new material to British fans."

(A Riot of Our Own,p.218)



          Two Christmas gigs at Acklam Hall, a local community hall in Ladbroke Grove were organised for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

(Riot of Our Own, pp.218-219)


Bob Gruen opened the show playing a bugle at Notting Hill's 250-capacity Acklam Hall (the old Socialist Community Centre), off Portobello Road in the shadow of the Westway on Christmas Day, 1979.


Mick, Joe and Paul walked not very far to the gig; it was 50p to get in.

The 101'ers had played here.

(Gig dates : 12/7/75,21/11/75, 2/4/76)

The first show was sparsely attended but word of mouth guaranteed that the second Acklam Hall show was packed out and far more boisterous.

The double album, which fused rock, reggae, rockabilly, jazz, dance and ska, was released for the price of a single album.


 " PASSION IS A FASHION THE  REAL STORY OF  THE CLASH " by Pat Gilbert  (2004) has a detailed insight behind the London Calling story in Chapter 9 ' WORLD SERVICE.'


Tony Fletcher's " the Clash.....the Complete Guide to their Music (2005)  " features an album by album, track by track analysis & information on when and where the music was recorded.

16 December 2009

Lot 16905 in Bonham's of Knightsbridge Entertainment Memorabilia auction is the original artwork for London Calling, accompanied by Ray Lowry's preliminary sketches. The winning bid is 72,000.







The segment aired in late December 1979 (or January 1980).

The footage is from one of the Palladium New York dates (Sept. 20/21, 1979) on the Take The 5th tour.


7 January 2010                               Royal Mail issues a special edition of stamps celebrating classic British album covers, including the Ray Lowry/Pennie Smith cover for London Calling.


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