Why This Book


“And right here, right here, we have the future. If anybody here has any guts, let’s take it!”

Joe Strummer, talking to the crowd, Barrowlands, Glasgow, 2/10/84


WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the fall of 1983, Clash co-founders Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon set about a daunting task: refashioning Britain’s “Only Band That Matters” without two key members: guitarist Mick Jones and drummer Topper Headon.

With help from co-conspirators Bernie Rhodes and Kosmo Vinyl, and three twentysomething replacements – drummer Pete Howard, and guitarists Nick Sheppard and Vince White – Strummer and Simonon aimed to revisit the first album’s stripped-down martial urgency, and blow away the era’s prevailing trends. “Pop will die,” Strummer vowed “and rebel rock will rule.”

Just two years later, the “Clash Mark II” lineup would dissolve amid a critically panned album (CUT THE CRAP), internal bickering, and managerial mind games. With rare exceptions, however, the whole story has only been told in bits and pieces.

Now, Mark Andersen and Ralph Heibutzki will join forces to tell what aspires to be the definitive account of this era in WE ARE THE CLASH: THE LAST STAND OF THE ONLY BAND THAT MATTERED on Akashic Books.

Andersen is best-known as co-author of DANCE OF DAYS: TWO DECADES OF PUNK IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL (2001), and co-founder of punk activist collective, Positive Force DC, while Heibutzki first appeared in print with UNFINISHED BUSINESS: THE LIFE & TIMES OF DANNY GATTON (2003).

Both were originally working on separate but parallel tracks, until they decided to join forces – and produce a book that will speak for itself.

“I was a Clash fan from 1977 on, and the band was a tremendous inspiration for me as a teenager,” Andersen recalls. “But this period of The Clash — for all its failures — actually may have had an even bigger impact on the work I’ve done with Positive Force and other community projects since 1984.”

“This is not only a great musical story, it’s a compelling human interest saga,” Heibutzki said. “The issues that ‘Strummer, Simonon and company’ faced during those two turbulent years – notably, the struggle to regain ’77-era idealism in a hyper-commercialized environment – are relevant for any reader, musician or not.”

“Too many folks simply dismiss this era of the band,” Andersen agrees. “This book will not only challenge some conventional musical critiques, but also place The Clash’s drama in its proper political context: Reagan, Thatcher, the defeat of the miners’ strike and the subsequent ascendancy of right-wing economics and politics.”

The authors welcome all contributions, including anecdotes, flyers and graphics, plus whatever recollections that people wish to share, whether they saw the band live, or had any dealings with them. To contribute along those lines, contact Andersen at wearefamilydc@gmail.com or Heibutzki at chairmanralph@yahoo.com.

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