Meaning of Complete Control by The Clash & The Story Behind

In January 1977, The Clash signed a contract with the CBS label, one of the leaders in the recording market. Already in the spring, the debut album, traditionally called simply The Clash, appeared on the shelves of British music shops. He climbed high in the local charts and opened up young punks to a wide audience.

The story behind and meaning of the song Complete Control – The Clash

A fly in the ointment for the musicians was the company’s authoritarian style of government. They were especially outraged by the producers’ reluctance to release the album in the US and the decision to release the track Remote Control as a single. Remembers Joe Strummer:

After the Anarchy tour, we met with Bernie [Rhodes] at The Ship in Soho. He said he needed total control… I left the club with Paul [Simonon]collapsed on the sidewalk and burst into tears because of these words.


The punks expressed their indignation with the track Complete Control, which will be discussed below.

Mick Jones co-wrote the song with Joe Strummer. In the lyrics of the song, the musicians describe how the label’s managers first promised them full creative freedom, and then began to completely control the band’s actions.

The track was recorded at Sarm East Studios with producer Lee Scratch Perry and engineer Mickey Foote.

Release and achievements

In September 1977, Complete Control was released as a single on the US version of The Clash. The song peaked at number 28 on the UK Singles Chart.

Fans enthusiastically accepted the new song, reflecting their mood. Many bands were sold to major labels, which could not but resent the fans. The Clash’s contract with CBS was also seen by many as a betrayal. The track Complete Control made the audience believe in the sincere commitment of the musicians to the ideals of punk. However, there were critics who reproached them with excessive naivety and even hypocrisy.

Video of Complete Control – The Clash

Let’s watch online the official video clip of Complete Control by punk band The Clash.

Interesting Facts

  • Complete Control may have been the first song to use the term “guitar hero” for the first time.
  • The phrases “You’re my guitar hero” and “This is Joe public speaking!” were an improvisation by Joe Strummer.
  • Rolling Stone listed the track as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Lyrics Complete Control by The Clash

They said release ‘Remote Control’
But we didn’t want it on the label
They said, “Fly to Amsterdam”
The people laughed but the press went mad
Someone’s really smart
Complete control, that’s a laugh
On the last tour my mates couldn’t get in
I’d open up the back door but they’d get run out again
At every hotel we met by the Law
Come for the party, come to make sure!
Have we done something wrong?
Control, even over this song

You’re my guitar hero

They said we’d be artistically free
When we signed that bit of paper
They meant let’s make a lota mon-ee
An’ worry about it later
I’ll never understand
Complete control, lemme see your other hand!

I don’t trust you, so why should you trust me?
All over the news spread fast
They’re dirty, they’re dirty
They ain’t gonna last!
This is Joe public speaking
I’m controlled in the body
Controlled in the mind
This is the top rockers
With your zone in the price you a girl
Comes to me

Total, see you in control
Total, see you all in control

We’ve got the rock ‘n’ roll
That means you
I kick it, I fight it, I gotta get up at it
I gotta kick it

Complete Control by The Clash Lyrics Alternate

They said to release “Remote Control”
But we wanted to release it on the label
They said “Fly to Amsterdam”
People laughed but the press went crazy
Someone is too smart
Full control how funny
On the last tour my friends couldn’t get in
I opened the back door but they were kicked out again
In every hotel we were met by the Law
Come to the party – be sure to come!
Oh-oh-oh, did we do something wrong?
Oh-oh-oh, full control, even over this song

You are my guitar hero

They said that in art we would be independent,
When we signed that paper
They meant let’s make a lot of money
We’ll take care of the rest later.
I will never understand
Full control, show your other hand!

I don’t trust you, so why should you trust me?
News spread around the world quickly
They sold out, they are scoundrels,
They won’t last long!
Here is Joe speaking to the people:
My body is under control
My mind is under control
These are the top rockers
You sell for your price
I understand

Look, you’re in total control
Look, you’re all in control

We have rock and roll
This means you
I disagree! I fight! I protest!
I will fight

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