This iconic rock and roll photo has made it to a lot of “Best Rock and Roll Photos of All Time” lists. We really can’t argue with Paul Simonon while he’s trashing his bass guitar like this.
Being out of focus and blurred didn’t stop this photo from making an impression. This 1979 photo of The Clash bassist Paul Simonon banging his guitar on stage at The Palladium in New York has become an iconic image in rock and roll history. One look at the black and white photo of Smith and you’re sure to imagine what the vibe was when the band performed.
Pennie Smith shot this iconic monochrome photo of Simonon and worried that it wasn’t good enough to use in her work since it was not sharply focused. The Clash lead vocalist and guitarist Joe Strummer and designer Ray Lawry thought otherwise and pushed for the photo to be the cover for the band’s “London Calling” album. This shot captures that moment before Simonon smashes his bass guitar in an attempt to rouse the crowd in attendance.
Our intention with the Influential Photographs columns is not to glorify or demean the subject of the photo. Our intention with this column is to highlight the most influential analogue photographs of history. The photographs we feature are considered icons, for their composition, subject matter, or avant-garde artistic value.