Joe Strummer 1952-2002

By PopMatters Staff

26 December 2002

Not all that useful, ultimately, to talk about the importance of Joe Strummer in my life, because that only applies to me and my junior high and high school friends. I've actually done this before, written about how the Clash politicized us, made us care about US foreign intervention and issues of culture and class (funny how close "class" and "clash" always were), introduced us to dub and re-framed rockabilly so it sounded cool instead of corny -- but somehow none of that means much of anything right now.

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Filled with life, Joe Strummer and the Clash showed us just how much vitality and hope rock could convey.

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The music of Joe Strummer and the Clash were an integral part of the soundtrack of my high school and college years. Strummer's death represents the disappearance of an important and substantial part of my musical past as well as the loss of one of rock music's truly poetic voices.

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26 Dec 2002 // 9:00 PM

As famous as he got, Joe Strummer never forgot what it was like to be on the other side of the stage. He never forgot what it was like to love a band with all your heart and soul. He never forgot about the transcendent power that all the best bands are capable of, and of the tremendous responsibility that comes with that kind of power.

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Although I saw Joe Strummer in action many times, I only met him once and, embarrassingly, confused him with someone else. In early autumn 1976, as term at Sheffield University unfolded, news of the arrival of the most talked about gig of the year filtered through the underground grapevine. The Anarchy in the UK tour, bringing the nascent fury of British punk to the nation, wended its uncertain way through the country, uncertain, because where-ever the entourage set up camp, there was imminent danger of the local council denying the potential hell-raisers a performing licence.

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