Historically, London SS were one of the most important UK bands of the punk era, despite never playing in front of a paying audience, nor releasing any recordings. Musically they were either ‘raw rock ‘n’ roll’ or ‘pretty crap’ depending on which of their many members you cared to ask. An ad hoc combo of London youth (or migrants drifting in from elsewhere), they were started around March 1975 by Tony James, Mick Jones (b. Michael Geoffrey Jones, 26 June 1955, Brixton, London, England) and Bernie Rhodes. They spent the entire 10 months or so of the band’s life auditioning musicians and rehearsing 60s beat and R&B classics. The only other semi-permanent member they found was guitarist Brian James but among the others who traded licks and rimshots were: Terry Chimes (drums), who was rejected; Paul Simonon (vocals), rejected as well; Nicky Headon (drums) turned the gig down; Rat Scabies (b. Chris Millar, 30 July 1957, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England) had a bash at drums despite being in his own proto-punk group - Rot; Matt Dangerfield and Casino Steel (the Hollywood Brats) popped in for two rehearsals on their way to forming the Boys; Roland Hot played drums briefly as did Andy (whose surname has been lost to the mists of time; and another long-forgotten soul called George had a spell on the guitar). The only recording they ever made was a demo featuring the James/Jones/James/Hot line-up which was the penultimate assembly. In January 1976 they kicked out Hot, and Brian James went off with Rat Scabies to join the Subterraneans and then form the Damned. That left the two originators on their own again, but James eventually went off to find a job before running into Billy Idol and joining Chelsea with him. They soon split Chelsea to form Generation X. Jones, Simonon and Chimes teamed up with 101ers vocalist Joe Strummer to form the Clash, and when Chimes left to form Jem, another London SS hopeful, Nicky ‘Topper’ Headon, replaced him.
Share this page