Joe Strummer is Dead


The Clash's Joe Strummer was found dead at his home in the west of England. He was 50.

I always thought London Calling was an insanely great bit of work. Full throttle punk-a-billy in "Brand New Cadillac," to the dub anthem "The Guns of Brixton" through the perfect guitar pop of "Train in Vain," just a relentlessly inventive work.

It is OK to feel very old today.

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  1. It is tragic that a man so young has past away. Joe Strummer represented what I loved and loathed in music. He was innovative and pushed music away from the banal garbage of the ?70s but he was also overly political. The Clash evolved (or devolved) from a band that was just expressing anger and frustration to a band promoting muddle headed political activism. It was fitting that the beginning of the end for them came around the time they were working on ?Sandinista?. It was a classic case of celebrities taking themselves too seriously (and being hypocritical in the process). For me, Joe Strummers music will be missed but his politics won?t.

  2. The Clash’s politics were dumb, but so what?

    In the early 1980s my buddies and I found no contradiction in rocking out to The Clash by night, and voting for Reagan — our first election — by day. It’s only rock and roll.

    I discovered punk and conservatism at the same time and place, and they’ve both molded my life ever since. RIP and thanks Joe, ya fucken wanker.

  3. Oh hell.
    This is Not good news.

  4. It’s a sad day. I saw Joe play with the Mescaleros last year at the 9:30 club in DC. He was terrific. He was only 50.

    The Clash were a great band and London Calling was the best double album product of the rock era. They had everything – rockstar aesthetic, adventurous tastes that were accessible, stupid politics to give disposable pop music “meaning”, and great great music.

    The Mescaleros weren’t so bad either. Guess I don’t have to check to see whether they’ll be passing through town anymore.

  5. Damn, damn, damn. Joe and the Clash were a major part of my early post-college years. Like we don’t already have a severe shortage of true talent in the music biz. He will be missed.

  6. Agreed on London Calling, but will anyone recall, “I’m so bored with the USA?” The mainstream obituaries are filtering that tune out, as they will much else to recycle Strummer into a respectable rock martyr instead of an over-the-hill punk. Not surprisingly, the utterly respectable Sir Bob Geldof was rolled out to pay tribute. Sorry Jeff, but I felt old long ago, when the peerages were being distributed. At least Strummer was spared that.

  7. Terry Chimes I think is listed as Tory Crimes on the first LP – The Clash. I expect that many of the obits will leave off the anti-Americanism – which wasn’t really anti-American – when they write up the tributes.

  8. This is upsetting. London Calling was one of the definitive recordings of its era. However, if you really want to understand the depth of Strummer’s talent, I suggest investigating an album he (largely) wrote and (largely) produced for Mick Jones’ then girlfriend, Ellen Foley. It’s called Spirit of St. Louis, and given its provenence, is both surprising and a minor classic.

  9. Though the Clash became the mainstream headliners of punk after the Sex Pistols’ demise, almost everything Strummer touched showed un-punk signs of quality and craft. Even his original soundtracks (for Alex Cox’s hard-to-find “Walker,” e.g.) and compilations (“Grosse Pointe Blank”) show a deep intelligence and taste at work. What remained punk about Strummer were his lyrics, which are right up there with Dylan as far as political songwriting, imho. I don’t go in for grieving over celebrities I never met, but I was surprised at how upsetting it was for me to hear that Strummer died. Time to re-read Lester Bangs’ Clash series and put the import version of their first album on the SL1200.

  10. I might add that anyone who deems Strummer’s politics to be doctrinaire, p.c., or “stupid” just isn’t listening to his songs with any intelligence. To use an admittedly tired pun, he was more of a Lennonist than a Leninist. As in the Beatles’ “Revolution,” Strummer’s ambivalence (and nuanced thinking) about easy political and social fads are on display in songs like “Safe European Home” and “White Man in Hammersmith Palais.” The hostility to his politics found in some of the posts says more about some of the knee-jerk and simplistic reactionaries who have hijacked libertarianism (formerly known as liberalism) than about Strummer or his work.

  11. I am from Poland. Did Joe know that his song were not allowed on the radio in Poland until mid-1980s and in the rest of East Bloc until the end of that decade?

  12. >>I might add that anyone who deems Strummer’s politics to be doctrinaire, p.c., or “stupid” just isn’t listening to his songs with any intelligence. To use an admittedly tired pun, he was more of a Lennonist than a Leninist.

  13. While reading all the macro-view postings about Strummer, the Clash, lyrical intent, etc., I was reminded of an article I read about the group, some ten years ago, that impressed me. It stated that in lieu of standard rock-celebrity backstage-behaviour, Strummer and the boys would more likely be found giving help (oft-times financial) and lending a sympathetic ear to young fans, as opposed to the standard ‘fill-em-up on Jack Daniels and ball ’em three at a time’ behaviour of arena-rock icons. I kinda thought that set them apart from the rest a bit (though i’m quite sure their share of good times was abundant).

  14. To call the first album ‘unfocussed rage’ misses the social context it was released into and the, up to then, ill defined and dubious political leanings of the punk rock ‘rebels’. To me it was the Sex Pistols brilliantly nihilistic bombast and the Banshees/Jam’s use of nationalistic and fascist imagery that was ‘unfocussed rage’. The Clash rounded up all the rage felt by the bored unemployed alienated young people of the UK (and beyond) and focused it clearly and practically at those responsible for the world that used and abused them.

  15. Joe strummer was a good man who headlined an awsome band. Punk is just not the same without him.

  16. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/21/2004 07:37:37
    [In] mourning, it is better to err on the side of grief than on the side of formality.

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