There’s a pretty good chance you are at least familiar with the name Joe Strummer. You might even recognize him as the founder, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of The Clash, the iconic British punk band that had a short-lived but successful ten-year run from 1976 to 1986. But there’s so much more you probably don’t know! To help educate you we’ve put together a list of 10 things you probably didn’t know about Mr. Strummer, who died 12 years ago on this day. Expand your knowledge below.
1. His real name was John Graham Mellor.
2. Before he started The Clash in 1976, Joe was in a pub rock band called The 101’ers, which never released a proper studio album, but released two singles “Keys to Your Heart”/”5 Star Rock & Roll Petrol” and “Sweet Revenge”/”Rabies” in 1976 and 1981 respectively, and a compilation album “Elgin Avenue Breakdown”, also released in 1981.
3. In his early childhood, Joe lived in Cairo, Mexico City and Bonn, and by the time he was nine, he had finally moved to England.
4. The Clash played their first show on the 4th of July in 1976, supporting the Sex Pistols at the Black Swan in Sheffield.
5. Strummer is commonly believed to have been Lily Allen’s godfather.
6. He was occasionally at odds with his former Clash bandmate Mick Jones, who was eventually fired from the band in 1983. After The Clash broke up, Strummer reconciled with Jones in attempt to reform the band, but the latter was busy with his new band Big Audio Dynamite, who had released their debut album in 1985. Jones did, however, help Strummer with the two songs he wrote and performed for the “Sid and Nancy” soundtrack, and the latter even helped write B.A.D.’s second album “No. 10, Upping St.”
7. Strummer was involved with the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism campaigns. He later also gave his support to the Rock Against the Rich series of concerts organised by the anarchist organisation Class War.
8. His final regular gig took place exactly a month before his death at Liverpool Academy on November 22, 2002, yet his final performance, just two weeks before his death, was in a small club venue “The Palace” in Bridgwater, Somerset near to his home.
9. Strummer had reportedly cried when he learned that The Clash’s 1982 hit “Rock the Casbah” was adopted as a slogan by US bomber pilots in the Gulf War.
10. According to Mick Jones, Joe had intended to reform The Clash, and in fact, had written new music for a possible new album. In the months prior to Strummer’s death, Jones and Strummer began working on new music for what he thought would be the next Mescaleros album. Jones was curious as to what would become of the songs he and Strummer were working on and Strummer informed him that they were going to be used for the next Clash album.
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