Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer

"I think we're going to have to forget about the radio and just go back to word of mouth." - Joe Strummer

As leader of the British punk band the Clash, Joe Strummer was responsible for some of the fieriest music in all of rock. With his taste for reggae and early rock & roll, he changed the punk world by expanding its musical palette.

He was born John Graham Mellor in 1952, and was already immersing himself in the sounds of reggae and rock as he attended boarding school in London. He formed the pub rock group the 101'ers in 1974, but less than two years later, after seeing a concert by Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols, Strummer quit rock to enter the world of punk.

He founded the Clash in 1976. Although the Clash was not the first British punk band, it came to be known as the definitive icon of the genre. They mixed their idealistic, leftist politics with an adventurous sound, incorporating reggae, dub, and rockabilly into their hard rock & roll.

Six incredible albums later, the members of the Clash went their separate ways, having made their mark on music history. After the breakup for the Clash, Strummer became involved in film, acting in movies including Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train, and Alex Cox's Straight to Hell, and scoring movies such as Walker, and Sid and Nancy.

In the mid 90's Strummer returned to the music scene with a backup band called the Mescaleros. He released an album called Rock Art and the X-Ray Style, which was loved by critics, and was followed by several tours of England and North America. With the Mescaleros, Strummer covered Clash hits, reggae classics, as well as material from other bands, including the Ramones.

Joe Strummer died of a heart attack in 2002, leaving behind innumerable fans and an incredibly influential body of work, both from his various solo projects and his time with the Clash.

  • Streetcore, the album Strummer had been working on when he died, was released posthumously in 2003. Considered by most critics to be among his best work, it includes a tribute to Johnny Cash, whom he greatly admired, a cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song", and a remembrance of the September 11 attacks, as well as new material.

  • Strummer created the organization Future Forests, which plants trees around the world to combat global warming. He was the first artist to make the production of his records 'carbon neutral' by planting trees. Many other artists have now done the same, and fans can visit their favorite artists' forests, which are located all over the world.

  • Joe Strummer co-wrote a song with Bono of U2, titled "46664," for Nelson Mandela's campaign against AIDS in Africa. He had also been scheduled to perform at Mandela's 'SOS' fundraising concert which took place in 2003.

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