5) Topper Headon
It’s long been argued that Topper’s ability to play any genre of music greatly expanded the Clash’s musical horizons, and while this is true, his skill at the powerhouse 4/4 rock that was their bread and butter should not be overlooked. While Terry Chimes was a perfectly adequate drummer, Topper left him for dead. You want proof? Compare and contrast ‘What’s My Name’ and ‘White Man in Hammersmith Palais’ from the live album ‘ From Here to Eternity’. The former is Topper’s take on a slight song originally recorded with Chimes, and he propels it forward with such gusto it’s vastly elevated beyond the pedestrian recorded version. Now listen and weep to Chimes’ take on ‘White Man’, a song originally recorded with Topper occupying the drum stool. Even the tuning on the snare sounds tired. How much did The Clash lose when they parted company with Nicky Headon? More than when they lost Mick Jones, in this writer’s opinion.