Mick Jones (The Clash)

Mick Jones (The Clash)
Mick Jones

Mick Jones during his time with Big Audio Dynamite (New York, 1987)
Background information
Birth name Michael Geoffrey Jones
Born 26 June 1955 (1955-06-26) (age 56)
Brixton, England
Genres Punk rock
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards, drums, harmonica
Years active 1975–present
Labels CBS, I.R.S., Radioactive
Associated acts The Clash, General Public, Big Audio Dynamite, Carbon/Silicon, Gorillaz, London SS
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul
Fender Telecaster

Michael Geoffrey "Mick" Jones (born 26 June 1955) is the former lead guitarist, secondary vocalist and co-founder for the British punk rock band The Clash until his dismissal in 1983. He went on to form the band Big Audio Dynamite with Don Letts before line-up changes led to the formation of Big Audio Dynamite II and later Big Audio. He now plays with Carbon Silicon along with his lifelong friend, Tony James and is currently touring the world as part of the Gorillaz live band (which also includes former Clash member Paul Simonon).


Early life

Jones was born in Brixton, South London, England to a Welsh father and a Russian Jewish mother.[1] He spent much of his early life living with his maternal grandmother, Stella, in South London. Jones' cousin is Grant Shapps, the Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield.[2] Jones went to Strand School – and then on to art school, because "[he] thought that's how you get into bands and stuff".[3]

But even before the Dolls, I used to follow bands around. I followed Mott the Hoople up and down the country. I’d go to Liverpool or Newcastle or somewhere—sleep on the Town Hall steps, and bunk the fares on the trains, hide in the toilet when the ticket inspector came around. I’d jump off just before the train got to the station and climb over the fence. It was great times, and I always knew I wanted to be in a band and play guitar. That was it for me.

—Mick Jones to Gibson Backstage Pass Holiday Double Issue 2006 , [4]

He started gaining recognition as a guitarist in the early '70s with his glam rock band, The Delinquents. A short time later, he met Tony James and formed the proto-punk London SS. By 1976, that band had broken up and remaining members Jones, Paul Simonon and Keith Levene were seeking a new direction.[5]

The Clash

Mick Jones (centre) on stage with The Clash

When he was 21, he and Paul Simonon were introduced to Joe Strummer by Bernie Rhodes (the self proclaimed inventor of punk rock)[6] in a dirty squat in Shepherd's Bush. The band practised in a disused railway warehouse in Camden and The Clash was formed. Jones played lead guitar, sang, and co-wrote songs from the band's inception until he was fired by Strummer and Simonon in 1983. Jones' lack of punctuality played a major role in his dismissal from the band.

For his time with The Clash, Jones, along with the rest of the band, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.[7]

General Public

After his expulsion from The Clash, Jones was briefly a founding member of General Public. Though he's listed in the credits of the band's 1984 début album All the Rage as an official member, Jones actually left General Public part way through the recording process and was replaced by Kevin White. White's picture appears on the back cover; Jones' picture does not. Jones did play guitar on many of the album's tracks, including the North American top 40 single "Tenderness".

Big Audio Dynamite

Leaving General Public behind, in 1984 Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite with film director Don Letts, who had directed various Clash videos and later the Clash documentary Westway to the World. The band's début album This Is Big Audio Dynamite was released the following year, with the song "E=MC²" getting heavy rotation in dance clubs, and both singles "Medicine Show" and "E=MC2" charting in the UK.

For Big Audio Dynamite's second album, No. 10, Upping St., Jones reunited with Strummer. Together, the two wrote several songs on the album, including "Beyond the Pale", "V. Thirteen", and "Sightsee M.C."; Strummer also co-produced the album. Their reunion did not last long, and following that collaboration, the two did not work together again for some time.

Big Audio Dynamite's third album, Tighten Up, Vol. 88, featured album cover art painted by the ex-Clash bassist, Paul Simonon. Shortly following its release, Jones developed chicken pox, along with pneumonia and spent several months in hospital.[8][9] After his recovery, Jones released one more album with Big Audio Dynamite, Megatop Phoenix, before reshuffling the line-up, renaming the band Big Audio Dynamite II and releasing The Globe album.

In 1990, Jones was featured on Aztec Camera's song "Good Morning Britain", with Roddy Frame.

The band's line-up was reshuffled again in 1994, and they released the album Higher Power under the name Big Audio. In 1995, a greatest hits album, Planet B.A.D. was released as well as a studio album called F-Punk under the original Big Audio Dynamite name. A further album, Entering a New Ride was recorded in 1997, but was only released on the internet because of a disagreement with Radioactive Records, their then record label. One more "best of" collection, called Super Hits, was released in 1999.

Jones announced the reuniting of Big Audio Dynamite in January 2011.

Recent projects


Mick Jones playing with Carbon/Silicon at the Carbon Casino VI event on 22 February 2008

In 2002, Jones teamed up with his former London SS colleague, Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik member, Tony James to form a new band named Carbon/Silicon. The band has toured the United Kingdom and the United States and has performed a number of anti-fascist benefit concerts; they have also recorded three albums: A.T.O.M, Western Front and The Crackup Suite which were available on-line for free. Their first physical CD release was The News EP. The band encourage their fans to share their music on P2P networks, and allow the audio and video taping of their shows. Their first song, "MPFree" is an anthem for P2P file sharing.

Similar in many respects to Jones' earlier work in Big Audio Dynamite, Carbon/Silicon aims to break the traditional approach to rock and roll. The band was described by Alan McGee as "...the Stones jamming with a laptop," and they make use of samples in their recordings and live shows. The formation of the band was catalysed by the internet and p2p file sharing. The first song written by Jones and James was entitled "MPFree," in which they expressed their willingness to embrace the technology of the internet and file sharing, in the interest of spreading music, rather than profit.

On seven consecutive Friday nights in January and February 2008 Carbon/Silicon played a series of gigs at the Inn On The Green, right under the Westway in Thorpe Close, between Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road. As well as Carbon/Silicon there were many special guests, including appearances by Sex Pistols' Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, former Clash drummer Topper Headon and multi-instrumentalist and former Mescalero, Tymon Dogg.


Jones has also been an occasional producer. In 1981 he produced Ellen Foley's second album The Spirit of St. Louis. Jones was in a relationship with Foley, and co-wrote songs for the album with Strummer. Players on the album included members of The Blockheads and all four members of The Clash[10]

In 1981 Jones also produced Theatre of Hate's first album Westworld released in 1982, written by Kirk Brandon. Jones also played guitar on the title track, "Do You Believe In The Westworld". Jones would also record and produce Aria of the Devil in 1982 by Theatre of Hate at Wessex Studios, which did not get released until 1998, when the master tapes were found by Kirk Brandon.

He produced the London-based band The Libertines' debut album Up The Bracket (2002). The album was critically well received, both in the UK and US. Jones stayed on to produce the band's second and final album The Libertines. He also produced Down In Albion, the debut album of former Libertines lead singer and guitarist Pete Doherty's new group Babyshambles.

Jones is also credited with contributing guitar and vocals to "Mal Bicho", the lead track of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs' album Rey Azucar.

He recently provided the score for Nick Mead's film, Dice Life – the Random Mind of Luke Rhinehart, a contemporary dance film created by Nick Mead and Wayne McGregor, featuring Luke Rhinehart, author of The Dice Man.

At the NME Shockwave 2007 awards, Jones took to the stage and performed "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" with Primal Scream.[11]

Friendship with Richard Archer

Richard Archer of Hard-Fi first met Mick Jones when he was still with Contempo. Hard-Fi were looking for a producer when one of the members of the record company suggested Jones, to which the band agreed to. At a rehearsal in Putney, Richard compared his dress sense to that of "the Godfather".[12][13]

Archer worked for a year on the band's first record, but things didn't work out as planned because of problems with the record company.[12][13]

Talking about Archer, Jones said:

"I guess I can have a lot of fun at this stage in my career and I like working with young people such as Rich because they're full of new ideas. I wouldn't say I'm a mentor to him, though. I just like to try to have some fun and play a few tunes.[12][13]

At Hard-Fi's NME Awards show at the Koko club on 6 February 2008 Jones appeared with Hard-Fi to perform the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" and Hard-Fi's "Stars of CCTV".


Jones reunited with Simonon on the 2010 Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach, on the title track "Plastic Beach". Jones is also performing in the Gorillaz live band supporting Plastic Beach, playing Rhythm Guitar, along with Simonon. The band headlined the 2010 Coachella Festival, Glastonbury and Festival Internacional de Benicassim.

Mick Jones and Paul Simonon are now working as executive producers for a new film based on the recording of The Clash classic 1979 album London Calling.[14][15]

Musical equipment

Mick Jones playing his Fender Thinline Telecaster at Carbon Casino VI

Jones' first guitar was a Gibson Les Paul Junior with a P-90 pick-up, which he bought because Johnny Thunders used one. The Junior was his main guitar up until late 1977 early 1978, and after that as a backup and studio-guitar. Around the same time he also owned another Les Paul Junior, all black (formerly red) with a black pick-guard, which got smashed at a gig in 1977. He then switched to the regular Gibson Les Paul and later to Gibson Les Paul Customs.

"My favourites are still the Juniors," he told Gibson.com in 2006. "I had a great Les Paul Standard, a sunburst one. And then I had a black Custom, and a white Custom. And then the big white hollowbody for London Calling. But I still play the Juniors today."

He also occasionally played an Olympic White Fender Stratocaster – for live versions of 'Straight to Hell' – and several Bond Guitars that were donated to him by good friend Andrew Bond, who made the guitars. For effects Jones mainly uses MXR pedals including a 100 Phaser, a Flanger, an Analog Delay and a Noisegate as well as a Roland chorus or Space Echo effect.[16] During his days with The Clash, Jones used a Marshall Plexi amplifier and occasionally a Fender Twin with a 2x12 cabinet. He later changed to Mesa Boogie amplifier with two Marshall 4x12 cabinets that he used throughout the rest of his career with The Clash.[17][18]

Jones played a high-tech British-made guitar called the Bond Electraglide with Big Audio Dynamite. He wears it on the cover of No. 10, Upping St..

Live, Jones still occasionally plays a Gibson Les Paul Junior guitar, but with his current band Carbon/Silicon favours a much lighter, black 1972 Fender Thinline Telecaster guitar with its original Fender Wide Range humbucker pick-ups. They are both played through a Fender Blues DeVille valve amplifier. Additional overdrive is provided by an Ibanez Tube Screamer TS-9 overdrive pedal.


  1. ^ "Mick Jones (I) – Biography". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0428851/bio. Retrieved 17 December 2007. "Sid Vicious gained the enmity of The Clash's Mick Jones due to his habit of wearing a Nazi Swastika t-shirt. Jones, who is Jewish, and the rest of The Clash vowed they would never appear on stage with the Sex Pistols." 
  2. ^ Newsnight, BBC2, 14 April 2010
  3. ^ Letts Don; Rick Elgood, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Terry Chimes, The Clash (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World (Documentary). New York, NY: Sony Music Entertainment; Dorismo; Uptown Films. Event occurs at 3:50–4:50. ISBN 0-7389-0082-6. OCLC 49798077. 
  4. ^ "Stay Free: Mick Jones Looks Back at The Clash". Gibson Backstage Pass Holiday Double Issue 2006. Gibson.com. 12 2006. Archived from the original on 10 September 2007. http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/Features/From%20the%20Archives_%20Stay%20Free_/. Retrieved 17 December 2007. "But even before the Dolls, I used to follow bands around. I followed Mott the Hoople up and down the country. I’d go to Liverpool or Newcastle or somewhere—sleep on the Town Hall steps, and bunk the fares on the trains, hide in the toilet when the ticket inspector came around. I’d jump off just before the train got to the station and climb over the fence. It was great times, and I always knew I wanted to be in a band and play guitar. That was it for me." 
  5. ^ Renshaw, Jerry (22 May 2000). "From Here to Eternity – The Story of the Clash". The Austin Chronicle (Austin, Texas: Austin Chronicle). OCLC 32732454. "When Mick Jones finally began attracting attention for his guitar playing, he was in a glam rock outfit, the Delinquents, complete with long hair, feather boas, and poncey trappings; in time he would meet up with Tony James (later of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik) to form the London SS. With a revolving-door cast of players including future members of the Damned, Chelsea, and PiL, London SS took the first stack-heeled, shambling steps toward punk, naming among their influences the Stooges, MC5, and New York Dolls, and in the process acquiring future Clash manager Bernie Rhodes. By 1976, London SS had fallen apart, and Jones found himself in a new band with guitarist Keith Levene and art-school drop-out Paul Simonon. Simonon had spent much of his time hanging out with his West Indian pals and immersing himself in reggae, ska, and skinhead fashions, elements that would later be part and parcel of the Clash. Meanwhile, in another part of London, 24-year-old John Mellor was bashing away in pub-rock outfit the 101ers. The band caught the interest of Simonon and Jones, still in search of a front-man to round out their line-up." 
    Related news articles:
  6. ^ In a television interview, Strummer said, after drawing the camera to Bernard sleeping against a wall, "He invented punk...it was obviously too much for him", referring ironically to a statement of Rhodes himself. The scene and the statement are featured in the documentary Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten.
  7. ^ "The Clash". Induction. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. 10 March 2003. http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/the-clash. Retrieved 19 November 2007. 
  8. ^ Robbins, Ira Robbins; Jem Aswad, Michael Azerrad. "TrouserPress.com :: Big Audio Dynamite" (PHP). TrouserPress.com. http://www.trouserpress.com/entry.php?a=big_audio_dynamite. Retrieved 17 December 2007. "The disappointing Tighten Up Vol. 88 reaches no such peaks and now sounds like a fairly brazen attempt to get hip commercial airplay. The fault is seldom with Jones' songwriting but more with the slick sheen laid over the leaner, less aggressive beats. The LP yielded "Just Play Music" and "Other 99," but a pall was thrown on the release as Jones fell deathly ill shortly after its appearance; having contracted pneumonia, he was hospitalized for months." 
  9. ^ "Punk Legends Form Rock Band Carbon/Silicon". National Public Radio: Music. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18484452. Retrieved 29 January 2008. 
  10. ^ Allmusic.com
  11. ^ ChartAttack.com Staff (2 March 2007). "Doherty And Moss' Naughtiness Overshadows Arctic Monkeys At NME Awards" (CFM). News. Chart Communications. http://www.chartattack.com/news/43096/doherty-and-moss-naughtiness-overshadows-arctic-monkeys-at-nme-awards. Retrieved 27 April 2009. "Jones joined Primal Scream to close the show with a cover of The Clash's "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais," which was performed in honour of the storied venue's imminent closing. Primal Scream also played "Movin' On Up", "Country Girl", "Rocks" and "Swastika Eyes"." 
  12. ^ a b c "Mick Jones & Richard Archer." The Independent on Sunday (London, England) (9 March 2008)
  13. ^ a b c A Scan of "Mick Jones & Richard Archer" from The Independent on Sunday (London, England) (9 March 2008)
  14. ^ "Clash album London Calling to spawn rock biopic". ENTERTAINMENT & ARTS. BBC News. 1 December 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11886575. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  15. ^ "Mick Jones and Paul Simonon working on Clash 'London Calling' film". NME. 1 December 2010. http://www.nme.com/news/the-clash/54075. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  16. ^ London's Burning!
  17. ^ Yahoo! GeoCities
  18. ^ Website Toolbox

Further reading

  • Clash, The (1 October 2008). The Clash: Strummer, Jones, Simonon, Headon. London: Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-84354-788-0. OCLC 236120343. 
  • Gilbert, Pat (2005) [2004]. Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th ed.). London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1-84513-113-4. OCLC 61177239. 
  • Gray, Marcus (2005) [1995]. The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (5th revised ed.). London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1-905139-10-1. OCLC 60668626. 
  • Green, Johnny; Garry Barker (2003) [1997]. A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Orion. ISBN 0-7528-5843-2. OCLC 52990890. 
  • Gruen, Bob; Chris Salewicz (2004) [2001]. The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Omnibus. ISBN 1-903399-34-3. OCLC 69241279. 
  • Needs, Kris (25 January 2005). Joe Strummer and the Legend of the Clash. London: Plexus. ISBN 0-85965-348-X. OCLC 53155325. 
  • Topping, Keith (2004) [2003]. The Complete Clash (2nd ed.). Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1-903111-70-6. OCLC 63129186. 

External links

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