Mick Jones Biography

Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter (1955–)
English musician Mick Jones was a guitarist and singer for the punk rock band The Clash.


Michael Geoffrey "Mick" Jones was born in London, England, in 1955. Along with his fellow members of The Clash, Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, Terry Chimes and later Topper Headon, he helped define the punk rock sound of the late 1970s. Jones was one of the group's main songwriters before his departure in 1983. The Clash was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Early Life

Musician Mick Jones was born Michael Geoffrey Jones in London, England, on June 26, 1955. Largely raised by his maternal grandmother, Jones showed an early talent as an artist and demonstrated a youthful passion for music.

His early musical influences were the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who. "I studied everything having to do with them," he later told GQ magazine. I wanted to know all about that. They told me how I might possibly live my life."

By the early 1970s, Jones, who'd taken up the guitar, started gaining some modest recognition with his band, The Delinquents. When the group broke up, Jones reset himself by creating a new punk band called London SS, which eventually featured the young and raw bass playing of future Clash bandmate Paul Simonon.

For Jones and others, the English punk scene marked a new era in music, with much of it being defined by another up-and-coming band called the Sex Pistols.

"It felt like something incredible, when we first saw the Sex Pistols," he said. "You knew that nothing that had come before was like that. It was like, 'This is the future.' It was like looking at the future; there was a year-zero feeling."

In 1976, Jones and Simonon caught a performance of another young English band, the 101ers, which featured front man Joe Strummer.

The Clash

Later that year, Jones, Simonon and Strummer were formally introduced by their common friend and eventual manager, Bernie Rhodes. That meeting paved the way for the formation of The Clash. The group's name came from Simonon, who had noticed how often the term "clash" was used in an edition of the London Standard newspaper. Drummer Terry Chimes joined the group a short time later.

Much of the creative juice behind The Clash came from Jones and Strummer, who predominantly wrote most of the group's material. And in those early days especially, it was not uncommon for the two songwriters to work closely together. Some of the band's songs, such as "Lost in the Supermarket," were written by Strummer for Jones.

"We were opposites in lots of ways," Jones later recounted. "I would play very precisely, and Joe would play very loosely. He sang somewhat gruffly, and I sang sweetly. And then I came from the council flats and he came from a relatively well-off background—a lowly diplomat's son. So we were opposites in many ways, and so I think that was what made it so interesting and fruitful. It was one of those great songwriting partnerships."

In January 1977, The Clash signed with CBS Records for £100,000. The group's self-titled debut album, which was recorded over the span of just three weekends, came out in April of that year.

The album, with future punk-rock anthems like "White Riot," "I'm So Bored with the USA," and "London's Burning," quickly propelled The Clash, who would spend the next decade largely singing about revolution and the working class, into stardom.

The group's follow-up album, Give 'Em Enough Rope, hit British record stores in 1978. About a year later, the band delivered what many rock critics and fans consider The Clash's best album, London Calling, a double-record effort that meshed the best of the 1970s punk rock sound with a refined level of lyrics and smarts that would help usher in a new decade. Rolling Stone magazine later voted London Calling the best album of the 1980s.

But for all their early creative collaboration, tension soon mounted between Jones and Strummer. In 1983, Strummer booted Jones from the band. Three years later, The Clash, which had produced six albums during its 10-year run, broke up.

"Groups split up," Jones has said. "That's what groups do—especially after a while. Especially when you're living in each other's pockets all the time; you just get fed up with each other. We didn't have those holidays to slow down. It was just a fast train. And the bigger we got, the more uncomfortable we felt about it all."

New Directions

Jones' departure from The Clash hardly marked the end to his music career. Shortly after leaving the band, he started a new group called Big Audio Dynamite. Its debut album, This Is Big Audio Dynamite (1985), gained immediate traction for the band with a pair of hits, "E=MC2" and "Medicine Show."

Over the next decade the group went on to release several albums and push out a few more hits. In addition, the group eventually welcomed Paul Simonon into the fold.

On top of creating his own music, Jones has taken on the role of producer for several other bands. He's also served as a sort of curator for the punk rock movement. In 2012 he opened his personal rock 'n' roll library to the public. The exhibition included 10,000 items from his personal collection that he had amassed over the course of three decades. At the time of its opening, Jones was working hard to push for the creation of a permanent rock 'n' roll library in West London.

"With so many libraries closing at the moment, it would be great to open a totally new sort of library which can be used as a real educational resource to show the history of our time," he said.

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