When Joe Strummer unceremoniously informed guitarist Mick Jones that his services were no longer required as a member of The Clash in August 1983, there was a sense of relief, and a certainty that after seven exhilarating years the ride had reached its destination. The tension that had always existed between the two key songwriters had reached a tipping point, and Strummer (allied by manager Bernie Rhodes) felt that Jones’ rock star image didn’t fit well with The Clash’s blue collar ethic. Jones confirmed later that he had committed to the self indulgence that fame had allowed him, but was unrepentant in that he felt that each individual member of the band brought something unique to the creative and visual table.
The following year would be spent writing new material and gathering musicians together for what would eventually become Big Audio Dynamite. Initially former Clash drummer Topper Headen joined, but his heroin addiction was still a major problem and reluctantly Jones had to let him go. Leo Williams, a dreadlocked bass player formerly with Basement Five was the first to join the band, now called Top Risk Action Company (T.R.A.C.). Jones’ intentions were far different both ethically and musically from anything The Clash had recorded. “The purpose of this group is to say something positive all the time. Something that separates us from bands that rant on about world destruction, and those that are palatable and bland” he would say of his future plans.
From an advert in Melody Maker magazine, Jones would recruit experienced soul and reggae drummer Gregg Roberts, and to complete the line up he would turn to his old friend Don Letts to complete the line up. The Rastafarian film maker had worked with The Clash on various visual projects and was brought in to provide keyboards and percussion. The music would encapsulate Jones’ vision, combining alternative rock, reggae, and dub. Finally the name Big Audio Dynamite was agreed on and the first single, “The Bottom Line” was released at the back end of 1985 on Columbia Records.
A self titled debut album would be released in October 1985, from which their best known single “E=MC2” was taken.