The London punk scene of the late 1970s combined all the elements of music, politics, and working class angst into a brew of discontent that resulted in one of the premiere rock bands of all time – The Clash. Now, former MOJO music magazine editor Pat Gilbert has written the definitive biography of the band that redefined punk music and garnered a huge, cult-like following both in England and in the United States.
Passion is a Fashion tells the tale of the band in the form of original interviews with the four members: Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon. Their ten-year career is also highlighted with numerous interviews with family, friends, colleagues and professionals in the music industry, each with their own point of view and tale to tell. The real, complex story of this legendary band gets all levels of exposure as the reader is made privy to both the goings on inside the band, and outside, including how, after achieving massive success with their classic “London Calling,” the band finally dissolved.
But not before The Clash made powerful musical and political statements that still hold strong with their loyal fans to this day. Gilbert gives fans great insight into the individual personalities of the band members, life on the road, their families, and of course, their downfalls, including Headon’s drug abuse, critical vilification for their political statements, and all those other elements that often take a band unit and break it back into its individual parts. The eight pages of black and white photos provide a candid look at the band performing, in the studio, and just hanging out, giving an added touch of up-close-and-personal intimacy to the already revealing interviews.
As this entertaining and insightful book proves, The Clash broke new musical ground, combining styles that went far beyond the limitations of “punk” and literally reshaped music itself. And they did so by often turning away from the usual rock star lifestyle, trying as best they could to hold fast to the rebel spirit of the punk movement from which they sprang.
Passion is a Fashion is a must for die-hard Clash fans, but music lovers and all those fascinated by pop culture will be just as intrigued by the story of the rise and fall of a great band that left its mark on musical history for generations to come.