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Made in Shoreditch

I also contribute a weekly column to Made in Shoreditch magazine called 'Old East End/New East End', where I look at the relationship between the East End of old and new, looking at the changes and the stalwarts in landscape, residents and culture, focussing on one street or district each week. You can find it here.

Joe Strummer Part 2 - End of The Clash to Premature Death

Sunday, 28 February 2010

So, Strummer sacks Jones and Headon. Meanwhile, Terry Chimes had been brought back in as drummer. Joe Strummer decided to carry on with The Clash hiring Vince White and Nick Sheppard. They released an album: Cut the Crap, which was basically awful. Joe Strummer decided to then finally split The Clash up. He even publicly apologised to the band's fans for how poor the album was. Without Mick Jones, Strummer arguably didn't have that cutting edge. The fire that was there with the two of them writing songs, had gone. Mick Jones' work with B.A.D. was OK but nowhere near as good as his work with Strummer in The Clash.

So what next for Joe Strummer? Well after a few years away from music, in 1989, Joe Strummer scored music for a film called Walker and one starring him called Straight to Hell.

During the 1990s Strummer became a fully-fledged member of the Groucho club and struck up a friendship with the actor Keith Allen and the artist Damien Hirst. He began going to festivals, mainly Glastonbury, and was rather famous on the scene for his camp fires. He guested on 1996 England football themed song England's Irie which was recorded for the European Championships and also featured another new friend of Joe's, Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays fame.

Towards the end of the decade Joe started up a group called Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. They released their first album: Rock Art and the X-Ray Style in 1999. The album received critical acclaim and was seen as a return to form from Strummer.

Global-a-Go-Go, a second album from the band followed in 2001, also to critical acclaim. The title track of the song featured backing vocals from none other than Roger Daltrey of The Who, a long-time friend of Strummer's.

In December 2002, Joe Strummer had a heart attack in his chair, and died, aged just 50. The loss was felt the world over and tributes were made by Bono, Julien Temple and various others. A third Mescaleros album was released in the wake of his death in 2003 called Streetcore.

Never again would the world see the passionate former Clash frontman. Thankfully, for his old friend Mick Jones, the two had one last performance together at Acton Town Hall in late 2002, at a benefit gig for striking firefighters, fittingly for such politically minded individuals.

R.I.P. Joe Strummer, 1952 - 2002.

Joe Strummer Part 1 - Birth to The Clash

Sunday, 21 February 2010

His voiced touched millions the world over and his influence can be felt in many places within popular music; from James Dean Bradfield to Bono to Pete Doherty.

Born John Graham Mellor in Ankara, Turkey in 1952, Joe Strummer, as he would become known, was the son of a British diplomat and his family moved around the world until he was nine, when they settled on a life in Surrey, England. Joe attended the City of London Freemasons School as a boarder and described his time as "bully, or be bullied. I chose bullying."

In his late teens and early twenties Joe became a squatter and squatted mainly in London. He was known as "Woody" for a few years, his own personal homage to Woody Guthrie, before finally settling on being called Joe Strummer as he could only play all six strings or none at all on a guitar.

He became part of a pub rock band called the 101ers and eventually became their frontman. One night in 1976, the Sex Pistols supported the 101ers and Joe saw the new groove. He joined Mick Jones and Paul Simonon on the advice of Bernie Rhodes and formed The Clash. In 1977, a drummer named "Topper" Headon would complete the line-up.

Under Rhodes' management The Clash released their first two albums: "The Clash" and "Give 'em Enough Rope". Both were big UK hits in 1977 and 78 respectively. In '79, The Clash got rid of Rhodes as manager and began recording the album that would become their magnum-opus...

London Calling transformed the group from Ladbroke Grove punks, big in the U.K. into bona-fide rock stars. The album was to be voted the best album of the '80s by Rolling Stone magazine and won plaudits everywhere. The mixture of reggae, jazz, balladry, punk and rockabilly proved to be a successful one and the band released the double album at the price of a single album, much to CBS's despair.

Now big on both sides of the pond, The Clash decided to go one better than London Calling and make Sandinista in 1981, a treble album. Mixed reviews followed but nobody denied that the eclecticism and boldness of the album was both admirable and was taking rock music to a new level.

The fifth studio album, 1982's "Combat Rock" was a single album and sold extremely well worldwide, bolstered by having the popular singles "Should I Stay or Should I Go" and "Rock the Casbah" on it. Also, crucially, Bernie Rhodes was re-appointed managerin this year. Topper Headon's heroin addiction became too much for the band in '82 and Strummer sacked him and then sacked Mick Jones in '83. Two decisions he would go on to regret...

Click the link below (labelled "posted by Luke Cloherty") to download Keys to Your Heart by The 101ers: