The Clash Debuted with "White Riot" Today in 1977

It all started today for the Clash in 1977.

On March 18, 1977, The Clash, four black-clad lads from Notting Hill, London released their first single. "White Riot" went to 38 on the charts.

They didn't yet know how their politically charged lyrics and adrenaline-fueled performances would help define the emerging punk genre. Though the Sex Pistols had kicked in the door of the punk movement, by 1978, they had disbanded, leaving the Clash to lead an inspired generation. Frontman Joe Strummer had plenty to say and penned their punk-rock manifestos, while lead guitarist Mick Jones composed the majority of the music.

The raw power and pure conviction of their explosive live performances whipped audiences into a moshpit frenzy. Joe Strummer told writer Jon Weiderhorn, “It was like a fireworks display. It was like, ‘Bang!’ As soon as that first tune came in it seemed to us like three seconds before we hit the last chord of the last tune. It was like a psychedelic, kinetic blur.”

Their first album, The Clash, was recorded over a series of three weekends and was released in England in April 1977. They remained at the helm with subsequent albums Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978), London Calling (1979), Sandinista! (1980) and Combat Rock (1982). Due to tensions in the band, however, they played their last show together in 1983, and went on to form other bands.

On November 15, 2002, 19 years after the last time they shared the stage, Jones played with Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros during a London benefit show. Fans were hopeful of a Clash reunion when sadly, Joe Strummer died of a heart attack from an undiagnosed congenital defective artery on December 22, 2002.