From British weekly The Observer:
When the Clash parted company in 1986, bassist Paul Simonon went back to his first love: art. …
When the London punk scene began in 1976, Simonon was a fledgling painter, fresh from Byam Shaw art college which, back then, was just up the road in Notting Hill. In the spirit of the times, he bought a bass guitar which he drip-painted in the style of Jackson Pollock and learned how to play by writing out the chords and sticking them on to the instrument’s neck.
Thirty years on, he describes himself as ‘a painter who occasionally dabbles in music’. His most recent bout of dabbling, though, led to a number one album as part of the Damon Albarn-orchestrated supergroup, the Good, the Bad and the Queen. ‘It’s done and dusted,’ he says of that project, but later lets slip that the group are in negotiations to play a big benefit for the newly reignited Rock Against Racism campaign. The gig is scheduled for 27 April in Victoria Park, east London, where, 30 years ago, the Clash rocked against racism before 100,000 people.
‘I can dip in and out of music when I feel like it,’ says Simonon, ‘but it’s not my life any more. There was a point after the whole intensity of the Clash finally subsided when I just found that painting grounded me in a way that music didn’t.’ …
Paul Gustave Simonon was born in Brixton, south London in 1955, and grew up, as he puts it, ‘all over the place – Brixton, Ramsgate, Canterbury, Thornton Heath, Bury St Edmunds, Ladbroke Grove’. His mother was a librarian and he describes his father, Gustave, as ‘a Sunday painter. Literally.’ Simonon senior also seems to have been quite a character. He went AWOL from the army having served in Kenya during the time of the Mau Mau rebellion. ‘I think he saw some bad things,’ says Simonon, ‘and was haunted by them for a long time afterwards.’
How the Clash started: here.
See also, by Tom Robinson, here.
RIP: Ray Lowry – Clash “War Artist”: here.