Joe Strummer - memories of a punk music icon

Joe Strummer by Milek

I became aware of Joe Strummer way back in 1977. I was about 13 years old and at the right age for a teenage rebellion.

Yeah, punk rock came along and killed any chance of educational qualifications. I was going to gigs in Portsmouth, England. The Locarno was my favorite haunt. At the age of 14 the door supervisors would turn a blind eye and let us under agers in. This is when I saw The Clash live for the first time. It is hard to explain with words the energy and positiveness and passion of that night. An explosion is the best way to describe it. The anger of Joe Strummer on stage I always thought left the cabaret of the Sex Pistols standing.

The Clash were the real deal live, even though most gigs the guitars were out of tune. "I'm just gonna tune up so it sounds like it does on the record. Who wants it to sound like the record? Me neither," said Joe at one of the gigs.

To explain how The Clash educated me politically and musically is hard in these days of bland bands singing about love and boogying. To quote one of Joe's lyrics from "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais": "The new groups are not concerned with what there is to be learned. They got Burton suits, ha, you think it's funny turning rebellion in to money."

I bunked off school and followed The Clash with some friends. We were always on the guest list, got to hang out with Joe and Paul Simonon mainly. They gave us food and booze and shelter occasionally. This was a man who didn't want to be a pop star (I think Mick Jones did). He would take the pi** out of you and you could take the pi** back. Joe always had time for other people.

To lose Joe Strummer (real name John Mellor) back in 2002 was probably one of the biggest losses to popular music. Joe's spirit will always be with me.

The picture above was created by a good friend of mine Milek Jakubiec.

Joe Strummer - Strummerville Official Website

By: Dave Tommo

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About Dave Tommo

Oxford, England based Songwriter/Musician Dave Tommo contributes reviews and commentary to
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