Joe Strummer, who we take as our patron saint here at NTSIB, died 11 years ago today. The above song, “Mega Bottle Ride” by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, ends with the line “And it’s time to be doing something good”, and it seems to me that one of the best ways that anyone can pay tribute to Joe is by doing good in his name.
A lovely example of that ethos is the Tumblr blog “What Would Joe Strummer Do?” A recent post on the blog itself beautifully sums up what’s going on there.
letsagetabita-rockin asked: Hello, Joe. Do you like the idea that there’s someone who lets people ask them rather serious questions on the internet and answers them as if they were you?
This blog was started as a fun project, a bit of punk-rock silliness we could share with others. We didn’t expect serious questions, but we got them – and now, those questions are the reason we keep doing this. If people stop asking us questions, we’ll stop answering.
In the meantime, there are people out there who have real questions and life-changing problems and no … Continue reading
Time to raise a glass to NTSIB patron saint, Mr. Joe Strummer a.k.a. Woody Mellor a.k.a. John Mellor, who would have been 61 years old today.
Joe had a nervous energy that never let him settle in one place, one role, one style, one identity for too long, as outlined in a new article from The Atlantic website Joe Strummer and Punk Self-Reinvention. When Joe passed away in 2002, he was in the midst of yet another renaissance with his young group of lads, the Mescaleros. Below is an artifact from that time, a full Mescaleros show filmed at the Roseland Ballroom in New York in 1999.
Here we are, on the 10th anniversary of the death of Joe Strummer. I still miss Joe so much that it’s difficult to believe it’s a decade since he died… but maybe that’s because his presence is still so strong in the world. Things that Joe said and did still inform a good deal of what I do here and now, and I know it’s the same for people all over the world. He wasn’t perfect, no, but on his good days, he inspired more people than most of us will in our entire lives.
In Chris Salewicz’s biography of Joe, Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer, director Jim Jarmusch had this to say about his friend: “He talked a lot about the bad times that ended the Clash. He seemed to feel guilty. He felt really bad about Cut the Crap, said it was crap. I said, ‘You only learn from your mistakes. You can’t learn things without fucking up.’ We had a lot of discussions about mistakes and accidents, how circumstance and fate affects our lives, how if you want to find your dream lover, you’ll never find it, but as soon as you dismiss … Continue reading
From 1999 into 2002, Joe Strummer had his own radio program on the BBC World Service, called “Joe Strummer’s London Calling”. This show epitomizes why Joe is the patron saint of NTSIB. Joe spun everything from Harry Belafonte to Thu Zahina, from Eddie Cochran to Francoise Hardy. He drew from all over the timeline and all over the world. For Joe, music had no boundaries.
Below are a series of podcasts that collected most1 of Joe’s half-hour broadcasts. Hosted by musician and artist Jon Langford, the series is bookended by two half-hour segments featuring Langford presenting interview clips.
1To find all the broadcasts, sans the podcast framework, click here.
Today’s Strummer week post covers Joe Strummer’s sideline career in films. While Joe composed film scores and wrote songs for films, he also appeared in a few of them. The first was 1980’s Rude Boy, a film conceived by the Clash’s manager Bernie Rhodes, likely in a chess move response to frenemy Malcolm McLaren’s film project for the Sex Pistols, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle. While the main attraction of the film is live footage of the Clash, a story involving “roadie” Ray is woven in. The success of the film is debatable, and while it is a must-see for hardcore fans, the band ended up hating it in the end.
Rude Boy excerpt
Joe’s next foray into film would be his own creation Hell W10. Written and directed by Joe in the summer of 1983, the black and white gangster film featured members of the Clash as well as their friends and business associates. The film was thought lost until, as the story goes, a rough copy was purchased out of the back of a car by a pair of fans. The found film was given a Clash-driven soundtrack and can be found on … Continue reading
Make some time for this documentary of the Clash, produced by longtime friend to the band Don Letts, and featuring interviews with the band.
We continue our week-long Joe Strummer tribute, leading up to the 10-year anniversary of his death on December 22, with a bit about the Pogues. The lives of the Pogues weaved around Joe’s for a number of years, beginning before the Pogues even existed. In the late ’70s, young Shane MacGowan was a visible fixture on the London punk scene, but more as a fan than as a music maker. The first known intersection in the lives of Joe and Shane came on October 23, 1976, at the Clash’s first headlining gig in London at the ICA on the Mall. Part of the reason the date is so memorable involves Shane.
Yes, you recognize him: that young man in the pinstriped jacket, with blood later streaming down the side of his head is the same person who would later go on to pen literary and poignant tunes like “Fairytale of New York” and “A Pair of Brown Eyes”.
A true punk, Shane wouldn’t let a little bloody … Continue reading
This Saturday, December 22, will mark a decade since Joe Strummer died of an undiagnosed heart defect. As Joe is the “patron saint” of NTSIB (our look riffs on Clash imagery, our name is drawn from one of his lyrics, and his attitude about and love for music fuels our mission), we will be featuring bits and bobs from Joe’s life and music this week.
Joe’s spirit is carried on still by the women who called him family: ex-wife Gaby Salter, daughters Jazz and Lola, widow Lucinda Garland, and step-daughter Eliza.
“Strummerville” – a film by Don Letts
Lucinda began Strummerville soon after Joe’s death, and it has grown into a foundation that continues in Joe’s vision of punk as a do-it-yourself revolution of people helping people by doing everything from supporting UK artists (Frank Turner was a Strummerville beneficiary) to aiding musical education for children in Africa. While Strummerville has always been a part of the Glastonbury festival, where Joe set up a campfire every year and dubbed it Strummerville, the foundation put on its own festival this past August, Strummer of Love. Artists like the Pogues, Billy Bragg, Mick Jones and … Continue reading