He was no hero. (12/22/02)
Yet there was such a passion to his music and that of the Clash that you could not ignore.
They were loud, political, with a sense of intelligence that wasn't in many of the other 'punk' groups of the time.
I really hadn't heard of them until London Calling. The explosion of the opening cut, the cynicism of Lost In The Supermarket, and what were they saying about Montgomery Clift?
The bloated Sandinista came out after that. For a friend's radio poetry project I read the lyrics of Somebody Got Murdered.
Goodbye, for keeps, forever.
Then, at the station, we got a 45 from Epic Records. No group was listed on the label. It was a promo of Should I Stay or Should I Go. Things had changed for the group, or had they? Were The Clash becoming hit makers on their own terms?
I saw them live, at Rich Stadium, opening for The Who. they did their 45 minutes, closed with I Fought The Law. They weren't a stadium band. They needed the intimate raw energy of a small club to get their message across.
At the bar I worked as DJ, at the end of one evening I heard a voice call out, 'Ed, play The Clash. they have something to say.' A couple of years later I found out that voice belonged to someone who became a good friend.
They had the torch, but as Strummer later said, they dropped it.
The band split, a very ugly split between Strummer and Jones.
There was a strange Clash record done in the mid 80's. Jones did Big Audio Dynamite. Strummer had a few decent solo records, recorded with The Pogues, did some acting.
The Clash are being inducted into he Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March.
Joe Strummer will be missing.
It will not be the same.