Remembering Joe Strummer – 10 years on

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This probably isn’t going to be the best tribute you’ll see today on Joe Strummer, who died on this day in 2002 aged 50, for reasons I’ll now describe. I feel slightly ashamed to say I was a bit of a latecomer to The Clash. Admittedly, not being born until 1984 meant I missed the punk rock explosion in the UK. In fact my first memory of The Clash was first listening to ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ when I was about 10 or 11 on an indie rock compilation. My teenage years drew me away from slightly away from punk rock and towards metal. Although my brother was keenly into punk and rock, and indeed we shared our different tastes in music, The Clash was strangely one that rarely came up, and that was despite their status. Joe’s death certainly caught me and a lot of other people by surprise. I was just getting into some of his later work, particularly The Mescaleros. I wasn’t overly aware of The Clash, but I certainly knew who Joe Strummer was.

As I always look out for something new, so I always look back retrospectively. It wasn’t until the opening chords of ‘Clash City Rockers’ greeted my ears while playing a Tony Hawk video game a few years back that The Clash finally stuck in my head. I’d heard White Riot, London Calling, Rock the Casbah, all a million times. This was immediately attention grabbing. Shortly after that, I owned the eponymous debut album, and its follow-up ‘Give ‘Em Enough Rope‘, and I haven’t looked back since. Connections with fellow, older music fans have taught me to appreciate the bands of yesterday, and you certainly can’t beat the originals.

So here’s a video of the band playing ‘Clash City Rockers’ on the BBC show ‘Something Else‘. On this day, ten years on from Strummer’s passing, let’s celebrate his firebrand stamp on punk rock that shaped the musical landscape forever. Hope Strummer is loudly bothering whoever, whatever it is up there.

Don’t complain.

Peter Clegg

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