Joe Strummer dead
December 23, 2002 2:15 AM   Subscribe

50 is an odd age for a rock star to die. 25 or 75 both seem right. But fifty? That's absurd! And he never got round to reforming the Clash ...
posted by alloneword (64 comments total)
Completely unexpected, to judge from his official site.
Unlike poor Warren Zevon.
posted by alloneword at 2:25 AM on December 23, 2002

WTF?? I'm crushed...I was so looking forward to seeing the Clash perform at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame...damn...
posted by black8 at 2:28 AM on December 23, 2002

Possible heart attack according to the BBC.
posted by Summer at 2:50 AM on December 23, 2002

"...I'll never forget the feeling I got
When I heard that you'd got home
And I'll never forget the smile on my face
'Cause I knew where you would be
And If you're in the Crown tonight
Have a drink on me
But go easy
Step lightly
Stay Free"

posted by padraigin at 3:02 AM on December 23, 2002

Black 8 I assume your Hall of Fame comment was meant to be ironic, Joe would have far too much dignity to involve himself with such cobblers.
I often have a go at people for saying some icon they have never met will be missed, but I feel unbearably sad at this news. He was one of the good guys.
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:05 AM on December 23, 2002

Too soon, too soon...

Joe Strummer was no washed-up rock star. His work with the Mescaleros was great, and he still had the potential to make more wonderful music for years to come. I mourn the loss, not of the past, but of the future.
posted by skoosh at 3:06 AM on December 23, 2002

Now I know what I want for Christmas. An alive Joe Strummer...
posted by humuhumu at 3:20 AM on December 23, 2002

Tribute board at the BBC
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:30 AM on December 23, 2002

godDAMN it. A year and some ago Joey Ramone, now Joe Strummer. This really puts a damper on what was already shaping up to be a really crappy holiday season.

RIP Joe. You'll be sorely missed.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:36 AM on December 23, 2002

posted by maurice at 3:56 AM on December 23, 2002

posted by yerfatma at 3:57 AM on December 23, 2002

There's an awful irony that it was yesterday that we had the top three places in the singles chart occupied by spin-offs of 'Popstars: The Rivals'. Or, if you like, the anti-Clash.
posted by riviera at 3:58 AM on December 23, 2002

Agreed, riviera. That's why it hurts/ sucks so much: he was the only rock "icon" that really was an icon for me. He grew older, but he never stopped. I saw him in Springfield, MA a year or two ago and it was the best show I ever went to, mainly because he cared. Still. No mailing it in in some dingy club in western Mass to finish up the tour and get out of town: two encores, the crowd on stage singing backup the whole time, making requests in his ear while he was singing and all he did was put the mike stand over his shoulder to ward them off when necessary.

I was watching The Last Waltz recently and it occured to me there really weren't any rock gods like that anymore, Dylan, Van Morrison, etc. Joe Strummer was the one person that had that quality, someone who transcended music, someone who had more to offer. Thanks, Joe.
posted by yerfatma at 4:06 AM on December 23, 2002

Actually, I wasn't being ironic. I read in Rolling Stone that the Clash would be inducted next year. I believe the same article (I'll look for a link later) said that when they asked Joe if the Clash would reunite to play the gig he said, "Who knows what'll happen?"
I never thought I'd get to see Wire live (whew! glad they got it together) and I could've died happy to have seen the Clash, even if it was on televison...I'm with humuhumu on this one.
posted by black8 at 4:41 AM on December 23, 2002

I am absolutely speechless at this news. And to think all my Clash CDs are 500 miles away while I'm visiting for the holidays so I can't even arrange a proper tribute marathon.
posted by trox at 4:44 AM on December 23, 2002

Not much to say really. Rest in Peace, Joe. The Clash were the best punk rock band; history will do you justice. We'll miss you!
posted by 111 at 5:03 AM on December 23, 2002

And I was gripped - by that deadly phantom
I followed him through hard jungles
As he stalked through the back lots
Strangling through the night shades

Thanks for the music, Joe...
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:17 AM on December 23, 2002

"When johnny comes marching home again
nobody understand it can happen again
The sun is shining an' the kids are shouting loud
but you gotta know it's shining through a crack in the cloud
and the shadows keep falling when johnny comes
marching home"
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:17 AM on December 23, 2002

Well seeing as we're all posting our favourite Clash lyrics...

The kids in the halls and the pipes in the walls
make me noises for company
long distance callers make long distance calls
and the silence makes me lonely.

posted by PenDevil at 5:37 AM on December 23, 2002

White youth, black youth
Better find another solution
Why not phone up Robin Hood
And ask him for some wealth distribution

Punk rockers in the UK
They won't notice anyway
They're all too busy fighting
For a good place under the lighting

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 into money

All over people changing their votes
Along with their overcoats
If Adolf Hitler flew in today
They'd send a limousine anyway
posted by quarsan at 5:44 AM on December 23, 2002

Every cheap hood strikes a bargain with the world
And ends up making payments on a sofa or a girl
Love 'n' hate tattooed across the knuckles of his hands
The hands that slap his kids around 'cause they don't understand

How death or glory becomes just another story
How death or glory becomes just another story
'N' every gimmick hungry yob digging gold from rock 'n' roll
Grabs the mike to tell us he'll die before he's sold
But i believe in this-and it's been tested by research
That he who fucks nun will later join the church

From every dingy basement on every dingy street
I hear every dragging handclap over every dragging beat
That's just the beat of time-the beat that must go on
If you been trying for years-then we already heard your song
posted by black8 at 5:49 AM on December 23, 2002


This is a public service announcement
With guitar
Know your rights all three of them

Number 1
You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a CRIME!
Unless it was done by a
Policeman or aristocrat
Know your rights

And Number 2
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Don't mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers

Know your rights
These are your rights

Know these rights

Number 3
You have the right to free
Speech as long as you're not
Dumb enough to actually try it.

Know your rights
These are your rights
All three of 'em
It has been suggested
In some quarters that this is not enough!

Get off the streets
Get off the streets
You don't have a home to go to

Finally then I will read you your rights

You have the right to remain silent
You are warned that anything you say
Can and will be taken down
And used as evidence against you

Listen to this
posted by nyxxxx at 6:06 AM on December 23, 2002

The Clash had all the rebellious charge of the Pistols, but with a sense of musical history and willingness to experiment that other punk bands lacked.

Plus the songs man, the songs...

We'll miss ya, Joe.
posted by jonmc at 6:13 AM on December 23, 2002

BBC Radio 2 is playing some Strummer stuff and apparently has a tribute planned for later today.
posted by jonnyp at 6:33 AM on December 23, 2002

I met Joe a decade ago when my band opened for the Pogues during the period when Strummer was the front man. A real fine person, nice guy, a true mentsch. Gonna miss him.
posted by zaelic at 6:39 AM on December 23, 2002

The Clash were my first two concerts. Eighth grade, 1981, Aragon Ballroom, Chicago. Three years later they were back in town (sans Mick), and we ran into Joe and Paul on the beach. Joe drew a mohawk on George Washington, since a one-dollar bill was all I had to get his autograph.

To this day, the Clash is my favorite band. I'll miss you, Joe.
posted by mapalm at 7:03 AM on December 23, 2002

What an utter loss.

"Faces of Strummer that fell from your wall
And nothing was left where they hung
So sweet and bitter, they're what we found
So drink them down and
Walk out to winter"

See ya Joe...
posted by baltimore at 7:15 AM on December 23, 2002

oh my god...
posted by mcsweetie at 7:16 AM on December 23, 2002

If only U2 had learned a bit more from them. Or better yet, could everybody stop listening to U2 and throw on some Clash records?
posted by jonz at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2002

Man. The Clash (opening for the Who!) played one of my first concerts, too. And they were great, of course.

He was way, way too young to go.
posted by litlnemo at 7:32 AM on December 23, 2002

He only wanted more time
Away from the darkest door
But his luck it gave in
As the dawn light crept in
And he lay on the floor

From the Hundred Year War to the Crimea
With a lance and a musket and a Roman spear
To all of the men who have stood with no fear
In the service of the King

Before you met your fate be sure you
Did not forsake your lover
May not be around anymore
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:34 AM on December 23, 2002

I'd post "War Cry", but it's an instrumental.
posted by Vidiot at 8:00 AM on December 23, 2002

Just as long as Avril Lavgine is okay.
posted by dong_resin at 8:02 AM on December 23, 2002

Just as long as Avril Lavgine is okay.
One more reason to be crying, I suppose.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:08 AM on December 23, 2002


I'll remember these things the most
I see all my dreams come tumbling down
I won't be happy without you around
posted by jann at 8:09 AM on December 23, 2002

crap. i'm just sick.
posted by danOstuporStar at 8:17 AM on December 23, 2002

wow i'm sad.
posted by dolface at 8:18 AM on December 23, 2002

Well this really sucks. I just woke up, saw this on the news. I just watched Westway to the World on cable the other night. Remembering that I grew up with Janie Jones. I really could not believe this. I still can't. What a crappy way to start a 7 day weekend.
posted by luriete at 8:45 AM on December 23, 2002

The Clash remain the greatest band I ever saw. In the late 70s in London, there was just such a raw energy around Clash performances. We were all still probably naive enough back then, to believe music had a significance greater than reality should have taught us. I wouldn't have missed it all for the world.
posted by apocalypse miaow at 8:54 AM on December 23, 2002


Bye bye Joe. You made my world a happier place.
posted by squealy at 9:04 AM on December 23, 2002


It's strange, but every time I hear about another youngish rock 'n' roller dying, I think: And Chuck Berry is still alive. Crazy. All his (metaphorical) children dying.
posted by argybarg at 9:26 AM on December 23, 2002

In other music news, Zal Yanovsky of The Lovin' Spoonful died last week. Only seemed to make the headlines around where I live, due to him being more famous for his restaurants than his music these days.

While he and Strummer are worlds apart, he was an influential musician who should be remembered.
posted by krunk at 9:28 AM on December 23, 2002

A quote from Bono in the BBC article:
"The Clash was the greatest rock band - they wrote the rule book for U2"

Sadly, U2 never quite learned to read.
posted by shoos at 9:29 AM on December 23, 2002

posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:37 AM on December 23, 2002 [1 favorite]


Back in the garage with my bullshit detector
Carbon monoxide making sure it's effective
People ringing up making offers for my life
But I just wanna stay in the garage all night

We're a garage band
We come from garageland

Meanwhile things are hotting up in the West End alright
Contracts in the offices, groups in the night
My bummin' slummin' friends have all got new boots
An' someone just asked me if the group would wear suits

I don't wanna hear about what the rich are doing
I don't wanna go to where the rich are going

Two Ramones, Jam Master Jay, The Ox, and now Joe Strummer. Once Frank Black dies, its all over for my musical heros.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:45 AM on December 23, 2002

tsk. kids today. using "clash" and "rock star" in the same sentence. no respect, i tells ya.
posted by quonsar at 9:46 AM on December 23, 2002

I dread to imagine what it'll be like when Billy Corgan dies in 2037. Er, I mean, whenever. It's okay for Bob Dylan though, I think he's already brain dead, so we're just waiting for the rest now.
posted by wackybrit at 9:51 AM on December 23, 2002

Aw no. Joe's music was great, and I was a real fan of his acting, too. How horrible, I was just talking about him yesterday. I hope he didn't suffer. :(
posted by biscotti at 10:39 AM on December 23, 2002

Damn. Today just got grayer and rainier. Well, I guess I know what I'll be listening to the rest of the day.
posted by furiousthought at 10:51 AM on December 23, 2002

By chance or escaping from misery
By suddenness or in answer to pain
Smoking in the dark cinema
You could see the bad go down again...

God, this hurts so bad. He really was one of the good 'uns. Thanks for everything, Joe...
posted by scody at 11:18 AM on December 23, 2002

posted by alfredogarcia at 11:24 AM on December 23, 2002

The news of Joe's passing bums me out in so many ways. He was a great musician, he and the Clash helped define the concept of punk at a time when I was still wearing catholic school uniforms, riding skateboards through traffic, and climbing over the walls of boarding schools to go see them. One of my fondest London memories is seeing them play, I think it was at the Marquee. Somewhere, I still have the poster of the band that I ripped from the wall of the club on my way out. I met one of my best friends (now also deceased) at a Clash show. The Clash, like the Ramones, was a constant soundtrack to my teen angst, blaring my indifference to the commercial world of pop crap, a loud rhythmic drumbeat that fueled my belief that conformity was evil.

It sucks when the punks start dying of natural causes, because one realizes that this means your own generation is starting to get old enough to die, without there being something stupid like booze, drugs, or fast cars involved.
posted by dejah420 at 11:30 AM on December 23, 2002

50 years of age? That's horrible. While I was just a wee one when the Clash were big I picked up on them in my late teens and ended up owning all of their albums. Amazing band. Time to get out the albums for a listen.

black8: great lyrical quote. Amazing song.
posted by trillion at 12:02 PM on December 23, 2002

damn it all to hell. i hate casually checking in here and finding news i should have known already. One of the three bands that i had every LP of....

farewell joe, may all the young punk bands be half as good.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:07 PM on December 23, 2002

Sucks Sucks Sucks. I can still hear the sound of the Clash in the Palladium on 14th St. Time to buy a new copy of London Calling. I want to hear Vin Scelsa on Saturday. Sad.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:32 PM on December 23, 2002

just, fuck, just ....
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:00 PM on December 23, 2002

What are we gonna do now?
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:19 PM on December 23, 2002

I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

What a fantastic bunch of songs, when London came calling. And what a personality he was. So sad so soon.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:59 PM on December 23, 2002

In your sleep, if you're lucky, as you feed from your dreams, you might meet up with the JamJam Machine. He's a limitless cube of bright white noise, and all of them are in there, all the ones you knew and loved, and all the ones you miss, and they are throwing it back and forth, razzling and dazzling each other. As he passes, as he is leaving, he may let you tune to one single light, one single shimmer from his jukebox of colors...but only briefly, until he rounds the corner, and fades into memory.
posted by Opus Dark at 1:03 AM on December 24, 2002

Right. Very bad news.

Let's make it a Punk RIP week and listen to the Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks, Pixies, Stooges and whatever else holding that Punk spirit alive.

Speaking of which, someone in France, studying POlitical sciences, has recently decided to start writing a Ph.D. thesis about the role of Politics in Punk music in UK. Can't wait to read it.

RIP Joe.
posted by Sijeka at 6:14 AM on December 24, 2002

"Were it not for the Clash, punk would have been just a sneer, a safety pin and a pair of bondage trousers."

Billy Bragg, who is right about so very many things, is wrong about this. Punk's most enduring cultural contribution is the DIY ethos that inspired young people to make music that really reflected how they felt and what they thought. The Clash made great, great music that was inextricably linked to leftist politics, but that's only a part of what 1977 set in motion. Other bands and artists explored (and, thanks in part to punk rock, continue to explore) ideas that mattered to them. The Clash's politics are but one contribution to the ongoing dialogue.

The Clash's most important contribution, IMHO, was their joyous embrace of their contradictory nature: the anti-rock rock stars. "It blows a hole in the radio, when it hasn't sounded good all week" wrote Joe, and he might have been talking about the way "London Calling" sounded amidst all the other crap on the radio (at least where I was) in 1979.
posted by psychoticreaction at 9:49 AM on December 24, 2002

I got a much much worse feeling in my gut than when Joey Ramone died on april '01. Not able to elaborate this yet. So I'll just let my inner teenage say

"this sucks"

Rest in peace Joe.
posted by falameufilho at 1:28 PM on December 24, 2002

Dammit all to hell. This is crappy news to hear at the end of the year. At least he went out in his sleep. The lyrics of 'Know your Rights' will be echoing through my ears all day.
posted by beatnik808 at 1:34 PM on December 24, 2002

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