15 Rock & Roll Rebels

For these 15 revolutionaries, the only place to be was on the outside looking in.

The Clash

Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon and Joe Strummer of The Clash pose in New York City circa 1978.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

"If you ain't thinking about man and God and law," as The Clash's Joe Strummer once said, "then you ain't thinkin' about nothing." Unlike their inspiration, the Sex Pistols, whose early gigs motivated Strummer and guitarist Mick Jones to form their band, The Clash passed over nihilism in favor of political activism.  Their debut single, "White Riot," is sometimes misinterpreted as a call for a race war; in fact, Strummer was urging U.K. youth to rise up against the ruling class, as he'd seen black activists do. The band's viewpoint went global with their artistic breakthroughs, 'London Calling' ("Spanish Bombs") and especially the 1980 triple album 'Sandinista!', which was named for the Nicaraguan revolutionaries. "You grow up and you calm down and you're working for the clampdown," the band sang, imploring their listeners not to lose the idealism of youth. Strummer maintained it until his premature death in 2002 at age 50.

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