Readers Poll: The Best Album Covers of All Time

Selection include 'Nevermind,' 'London Calling' and 'Sticky Fingers'

blog comments powered by Disqus

5. The Clash, 'London Calling'

Pennie Smith was snapping photos of the Clash at New York's Palladium in September of 1979 when she captured one of the most iconic images in rock history. Paul Simonon was annoyed by the relatively quiet audience, so he began smashing his bass against the floor. "The Palladium had fixed seating, so the audience was frozen in place," Simonon has said.  "We weren't getting any response from them, no matter what we did. I'm generally good-natured, but I do bottle things up and then I'm like a light switch, off and on, and it can be quite scary, even for me, when I switch, because it's very sudden. Onstage that night I just got so frustrated with that crowd and when it got to the breaking point I started to chop the stage up with the guitar." 

Joe Strummer loved the photo, but Smith tried to convince him it was too out of focus for the London Calling cover. She was overruled. The smashed bass now resides at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. 


Photos: DeNiro, Cannibals and Punk Rock: Mick Jones Narrates The True Adventures of the Clash

The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: The Clash's London Calling

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.