8().()()() people. Joe and The Clash were transmogrilied into the personilication of positive punk ~ the side that had no truck with the swastika armbands Haunted by Siouxsie or Sid Vicious. It was at that point that Joe became King of Punk —~ aided by the recent demise of The Sex Pistols ~ and a serious spokesman for the left.
But the archetypal resonance of Joe and The Clash also lies in the plot-line of the messy demise of the group. occasioned first by the
YOU CAN HEAR THE HURT IN JOE'S SINGING, AND, SOMETIMES WHEN YOU WERE WITH HIM, EMANATING FROM EVERY ATOM IN HIS BODY
sacking of heroin-addicted drummer Topper Headon in May 1982. and — even more signilicantly — by the tiring of founder Mick Jones in August 1983. As Mick Jones wrote most of the music. this was madness. Although a further Clash line-up toured and recorded. it gradually dawned on Joe that he had allowed himself to be misled. ‘l‘ve got a big problem. Mick was right about (Clash manager) Bernie (Rhodes).' he
confided to me in I985. In the relentless upward drive of The Clash. Strummer had moved at such a pace he hadn‘t seen what was really happening. making expedient decisions that turned out to be disasters.
Joe Stnrmmer was now obliged — as he himself
later put it — to ‘go into the wildemess‘. making an excellent solo album. Earthquake Weather. that
was a commercial disaster. and acting in lilrns for
directors Alex Cox and Jim Jarmusch. ‘I became close to him during a period when a lot of the time he was really down.‘ says Cox. Jarmusch‘.’ “He had a dark cloud over him.
used to call him Big Chief Thundercloud. But he was still generous and spirited and uplifting to be with?
Moving out of London. Joe went to live in the West Country. Marrying Lucinda Tait in l995 seemed to set him on a new course. ()ne wedding present was a pair of tickets to that year‘s Glastonbury Festival. which would turn into a life- changing experience for Joe. After taking his lirst ecstasy. he ﬁnally appreciated dance music. and set about writing songs that blended dance and
é. _ ...v~
rock'n‘roll: one tune. ‘l)iggin' the New‘. expressed how he had come to understand a new scene — ‘when you get it. you don't forget it'.
These compositions mutated into the music played by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros when they released their lirst album. Rlu'k Art and the X—Ray Style. in November I999.
()n his annual visits to (ilastonbury. Joe would plot up in the backstage area. playing choice sounds non-slop. The centrepiece of his (ilastonbury scene was a large carnplire. which he personally constructed. Joe's (ilastonbury campfires aimed to reduce the egos of all participants until they could truly communicate. Joe told his friend Julien Temple. the lilrn director. that he believed his legacy might well turn out not to be The Clash but a global carnplire scene. 'Joe totally believed in God.. said Lucinda. "lie just hated any form of organised religion. He said to me. "I believe that mankind is inherently good. and that good will always triumph".‘
Redemption Song: the Deﬁnitive Biography of Joe Strummer is published on Mon 2 Oct by Harper Collins Entertainment. The 19- disc Clash Singles Box Set is released by SonyBMG on Mon 30 Oct
5-19 Oct 2006 THE LIST 15