Paul Simonon’s Bass

This image popped up in my feed this morning:

It’s the kind of image that immediately makes you want to know the back story.

Some of you will already know that it’s Paul Simonon’s bass, and that it got in this state moments after this iconic image was taken during a Clash concert in New York (and later used as the cover of their third album, London Calling):

Now, I don’t mind the Clash, but I’m not a massive fan. For me, they got more interesting the longer they went on, but still, I can’t remember the last time I deliberately listened to them.

I can also appreciate the effect Punk had on music, and what came after, but musically it has always bored me a bit. Give me Public Image Ltd over the Sex Pistols any day of the week.

However, seeing this image made me want to know how it went from pieces on the stage to framed in a London museum. Did some enterprising roadie scoop it up, with the foresight to think that one day it would fund his retirement? Did someone grab it for parts and then forget about it until years later when its value became evident?

After a bit of digging, I eventually found the answer towards the end of the video below. It turns out the answer is much simpler. Paul Simonon kept it, although first he had to rescue it from another band member:

“[Joe] Strummer took one of [the pieces] and was about to walk off with it,” recalled Simonon. “I just grabbed it back and said ‘I think that belongs to me.’”

Apart from loaning it out to museums occasionally, he’s still got it. Kinda pleased about that, and that if anyone does get the financial windfall from selling it, it’ll be the man who made it iconic in the first place.

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