Really cool tribute to The Clash's dearly departed Joe Strummer over on our sister station, BlogCritics.org. Got me to thinking about one of my very favorite punk bands.
The Clash are the essential punk band. They proved what could be done with the form, how it could evolve and mix with a host of musical styles. They provided a real message and real emotion to go along with the music, not just a nihilistic screed that was sure to burn bright and subsequently burn out. They helped to spur on a generation in which it could be cool to take an intelligent stand during a rock song.
It's thus that The Clash is really such a large influence on so much of modern music: from Green Day to Rancid to Rage Against the Machine (and so many others). I think they are that kind of rare breed -- along with the likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, the Velvet Underground, and a finite number of others -- that are both popular and massively influential on younger generations of musicians and music appreciators alike.