Iconic bass guitar smashed at The Clash gig to join collection at Museum of London

The iconic moment was captured on the cover of London Calling

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The bass guitar that was memorably smashed by The Clash’s Paul Simonon is to go on permanent display at the Museum of London later this year.

Simonon smashed his Fender Precision Bass at New York’s Palladium in September 1979, with photographer Pennie Smith capturing the dramatic moment on her 35mm Pentax camera.

The resulting image, which sees Simonon raising the instrument like an axe, became part of rock folklore after it was chosen by frontman Joe Strummer to appear on the cover of The Clash’s 1979 album London Calling.


As The Guardian reports, Simonon was in a “really bad mood” during the gig and smashed the bass guitar in frustration at the audience, who were sitting in their seats and failing to give the band the desired reaction.

The Clash
The Clash (Picture: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

It’s now been confirmed that the guitar will permanently become part of the museum’s world city gallery, which tells the story of London from the 1950s to today.

The bass was previously displayed from 2019-2020 as part of a wider exhibition about The Clash, but it will now take its place among other new exhibits, including Bill and Ben string puppets, a Vespa scooter and the 28in-waist trunks that were worn by Tom Daley at the 2012 London Olympics.

Originally published on NME

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