Nicholas “Topper” Headon, drummer of The Clash, turns 67 today.
While ordinarily I don’t celebrate junkies, The Clash is without a doubt my all-time favorite band and without Topper it’s unlikely that they would have had the impact they did. Lets face it, most of the attention in a band goes to the singer and maybe the lead guitarist, but a drummer can make or break a band. And to be fair, Topper has since cleaned up and completely taken responsibility for his actions back in the day. Which is about the best you can hope for in those situations. Besides, I’m not here to judge.
I hated the man for a time; as a young musician and uber-fan of The Clash, I held him responsible for their demise. Now that I’m older and have a few more decades of life experience under my belt, I can be happy for what they WERE and not be hung up on what they might have been. It’s been over 4 decades now that I’ve loved the music of The Clash, and whatever demons they were fighting back then made them what they were.
A lot of people don’t know the Topper both wrote and recorded most of instruments for “Rock the Casbah”, which while not my favorite tune by The Clash, was their biggest hit in the charts and gave them visibility to millions of “normies” that would have never paid attention to the band, so there is that.
Happy Birthday Topper, and best wishes to you! Thanks for your tremendous body of work, without it I wouldn’t be the person I am today.