London Calling: The Clash star’s bid for rock and roll library

The lead guitarist of iconic punk band The Clash hopes to open a permanent rock and roll library in west London using his own collection of music memorabilia, he revealed on the eve of a new exhibition.

One of rocks most famous song writing partnerships between The Clash lead guitarist Mick Jones and lead singer Joe Strummer is being celebrated at a new exhibition in Edgware Road nine years after Joe’s death.

It is called The Rock and Roll Public Library and displays more than 10,000 items from the guitarist’s personal collection of books, videos and other memorabilia amassed over three decades in the music industry.

The exhibition has special significance for the band as the library is on display at the Joe Strummer Subway – so called because the singer used to busk there in the early 1970s.

Now Mick is looking for a permanent home to open a library where people can borrow from his enormous collection of “anything cool”.


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“I have got a lot of stuff so I thought it would be nice to share it with everyone,” he said.

“We are looking for a permanent place to have a lending library, which would be our ultimate goal.

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“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.

“It started off as a personal collection of comics when I was a kid, but it has grown into a cultural and social history.

“There are the comics, toys, things from history, film, music – it’s become a popular culture collection that continues to grow.”

The Rock and Roll Public Library, which opens at the Subway Gallery tomorrow (Friday), contains everything from fanzines and lyric sheets to clothes worn on stage by The Clash.

Mick, who has gone on to work with Big Audio Dynamite, The Libertines and Gorillaz, says the setting for the exhibition has special significance.

“I used to walk down here in the 1970s when I lived off Edgware Road with my grandma and then I moved to Harrow Road,” he said.

“This place was here then and it was a sweet shop, so it’s lovely to put it to good use now. The spirit of the band carries on.”

Subway Gallery founder Robert Gordon McHarg III says he thinks Joe would have loved the exhibition.

“Strummer-Jones is such an important link for me and such a big song writing duo that they can’t be broken up,” he said.

The Rock and Roll Public Library exhibition is open Monday to Saturday 11am to 7pm and entry is free.

For more information visit www.subwaygallery.com.

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