Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: “Rock The Casbah” by the Clash
The Clash formed in London in 1976, as part of the original British "punk" music invasion...besides punk, their music incorporated elements of reggae, ska, funk, and rockabilly.
The band consisting of Joe Strummer (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (lead guitar and lead vocal), Paul Simonon (bass guitar and vocals), and Nicky "Topper" Headon (drums and percussion)....during the "hit" years.
The band had their first taste of success in their native England, with the release of their debut album "The Clash" in 1977.
"London Calling," their third album, got the band noticed in New Jersey in 1979.
"Combat Rock," which landed on record store shelves in 1982, brought the Clash to unimagined heights of success...with the release of our spotlight song.
Clash drummer Topper Headon wrote the music, and the original lyrics to this top-10 hit.
Joe Strummer says "the real genius" behind 'Rock The Casbah' is Headon, adding: "He banged down the drum track. Then he ran over to the piano, and then to the bass."
The sad irony is that Headon had been fired from the band due to drug abuse issues...by the time that the song became a massive hit, here in the U.S.A.
As a matter of fact, in the video (above), its the band's original drummer, Terry Chimes, that we see...as he had returned...temporarily.
"Rock The Casbah," with the help of video airplay on MTV, shot up to #8 on the Hot 100 chart in early 1983.
I wonder...would it have done so...with some of its original lyrics?
Joe Strummer had decided to take Headon's lyrics in a different direction.
Former co-manager of the Clash, Kosmo Vinyl (GREAT name for someone in the music biz), Headon's original lyrics were a...filthy reference to his girlfriend. "He had really pornographic lyrics for it, if I remember correctly. Very, very pornographic lyrics."
The opening line of Strummer's new lyrics was inspired by manager Bernie Rhodes' frustration with long recording sessions. In one session, Rhodes blurted out: "Does everything have to be as long as raga?"
Strummer saying in 2002 (shortly before his death): "I got back to the hotel that night, and wrote on a typewriter 'The King told the boogeymen you gotta get that raga drop.'" Then he says that he just looked at the line...over and over...and "for some reason I started to think about what someone had told me earlier, that you get lashed for owning a disco album in Iran."
This served as inspiration for the rest of the NEW song lyrics...with the people defying the Arab leader's (Shareef's) ban on disco music...and...Rocking The Casbah.
How did the world perceive the Clash?
In their native England, they were seen as "rock rebels," breaking new musical ground...
In New Jersey, they were seen as more of a pop band, with a catchy song...and as a "British import."
Interesting, considering that the "Combat Rock" album that spawned "Rock The Casbah" was recorded at the "Electric Ladyland Studio"...in New York City.
You can't make this stuff up.
This, either: When "Rock The Casbah" became a massive hit...Joe Strummer considered leaving the band. He just couldn't justify singing rebellious songs...when the band had become rich and successful.
Further, when the Clash broke up in 1985, it was speculated that the breakup was planned all along. After all, they had conquered America...
And, as a previous band hit had asked: "Should I Stay, or Should I Go?"
The Clash chose the latter.