John Graham Mellor (21 August 1952 – 22 December 2002), best remembered by his stage name Joe Strummer, was the co-founder, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of the critically acclaimed British punk rock band The Clash. His musical experience included his membership in The 101ers, Latino Rockabilly War, The Mescaleros, and The Pogues, in addition to his own solo music career.
- I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality
- Too many songs have been written about love already, you know? Subject's covered.
- About why The Clash focuses on political songs.
- Interview on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder on 5 June 1981.
- Anybody who makes speeches written by someone else is just a robot.
- For me the music is a vehicle for my lyrics. It's a chance to get some really good words across.
- [T]he toughest thing is facing yourself. Being honest with yourself, that's much tougher than beating someone up. That's what I call tough.
- Everyone has got to realise you can't hold onto the past if you want any future. Each second should lead to the next one.
- Interview for Sounds Magazine on 17 July 1982. (17 July 1982)"Armed Combat". Sounds Magazine.
- My motto is, 'What's the hurry?' I'm trying to get it across to the modern world that we need to sit around and think a little bit more.
- Interview with Corey Levitan for Rolling Stone Online on 2 December 1999. Levitan, Corey (2 December 1999). Joe Strummer Considers Clashing In. News. Rolling Stone Online.
- What I like about playing America is you can be pretty sure you're not going to get hit with a full can of beer when you're singing and I really enjoy that!
- Interview with Howard Petruziello for the New York Hangover on March 2000 Petruziello, Howard (March 2000). Drinking with Joe Strummer. New York Hangover.
- When you blame yourself, you learn from it. If you blame someone else, you don't learn nothing, cause hey, it's not your fault, it's his fault, over there.
- Interview with Judy McGuire for Punk Magazine in 2001. McGuire, Judy (2001). Joe Strummer Interview. Punk Magazine.
- I'd like to say that people people can change anything they want to; and that means everything in the world. Show me any country and there'll be people in it. And it's the people that make the country. People have got to stop pretending they're not on the world. People are running about following their little tracks. I am one of them. But we've all gotta stop just stop following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything; this is something that I'm beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other; it's because they've been dehumanized. It's time to take that humanity back into the centre of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed... it ain't going anywhere! They should have that on a big billboard across Times Square. Think on that. Without people you're nothing.
- Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007).
- The men at the factory are old and cunning
- You don't owe nothing, so boy get running
- It's the best years of your life they want to steal.
- “Clampdown” (1979)
- In fact, punk rock means exemplary manners to your fellow human being. Fuck being an asshole, what you pussies thought it was twenty years ago.
- from CD Now (September 1999) with Jason Gross
Strummer on Man, God, Law and the Clash (31 January 1988)
Interviewed by Richard Cromelin for the Los Angeles Times on 31 January 1988. Cromelin, Richard (31 January 1988). "Strummer on Man, God, Law and the Clash". Los Angeles Times.
- I just want to go back to rockin', but I'm uncertain as to what to actually do … The truth is, I never stopped thinking about rock 'n' roll for a second that I'm on holiday.
- What's holding me up is I'm confused about the nature of the music. Because the modern music doesn't reach me. I mean to say the sound of the modern electric production. A lot of sequencers... synths. That's what people are buying. Because that doesn't reach me, it throws me back to like 1948, but I don't want to be there. Back there, I'm talking about blues records.... The roots of rock 'n' roll is rhythm and blues and that's like really where I'm at, where I was always at.
- If you're allowed to make your mistakes, I think you should. But people don't really like hearing you admit them. Although I'd never wanted to dump on the musicians that were involved in that.... Because it was not their fault.
- I was trying to prove that I was the Clash and it wasn't Mick (Jones). I learned that that was kind of dumb. I learned that it wasn't anybody, except maybe a great chemistry between us four, and I really learned it was over the day we sacked Topper, and not the day we sacked Mick. There was quite some time between them. We played a whole tour between those times. But it was the day we sacked Tops.
- I kept trying to stress that — "Hang on, we're be-bop guys, we're down in the alley on 57th Street. We're not in there with John Reed and "Ten Days That Shook the World." We'd be in the alley with (Charlie) Parker shooting up junk. That's where we were at really.
- I'm a human being. I'm not dumping on what I've done. I mean I know we were doing social (stuff), all right? I just don't like boastin' about it, OK? I know what we were doin'. I know damn well what we did. But I ain't gonna start crying about it now, all right?
- I'll tell you something. When you see you become part of the cycle of generations, you lose your ego in the process, because you ain't nothin' special. You're just another cipher in the generations. When you devote all your interest into another person, you lose your self-obsession, and that's when you understand what it is. You don't know (anything) without that moment. You don't want anything to harm this helpless being. That's a fantastic change. And that's when you understand what's happening. I never understood anything until my first baby looked at me. I didn't understand (anything). Now I understand.
- I would say it was about time that you believe in something. And sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll ain't it.... A lot of people used to think they were.
My Dinner with Strummer (March 1999)
Interview with Earl Chalmers for Rude International on March 1999. Chalmers, Earl (March 1999). My Dinner with Strummer. Rude International.
- Everything's fucked! It's down to individual people to make life enjoyable. I don't have anything more to say than that. I think people should avoid the world fucking them up. People are becoming too uptight, treating their children bad, being negative.
- I hate it when I go out and I see parents going, 'don't do that', or 'stop doing that' when some kid's just hanging off a staircase or something. There's too much of this, 'don't do that'. The whole thing baffles me.
- The way you get a better world is, you don’t put up with substandard anything.
Bizarre Festival (21 August 1999)
Interview at Bizarre Festival in Germany on 21 August 1999, Joe's 47th birthday.
- The way you get a better world is, you don't put up with substandard anything.
- I have a big legacy of The Clash to live up to and I don't intend to uriny on a legend. I intend to build forward into the next century. The music has to be by the musicians, and there's too much changing things by the record company. I got a message for everyone in a record company: We don't care if you lose your job! You ruin music and I'll get all the smoothers out off the way, the people who smooth the sound off. Let the musicians have the music the way they want it, and not the way you think the grandmothers and 3-year olds will gonna buy it. Cause this is not about 3-year olds or grandmothers... This is Rock and Roll!
7 Questions with Joe Strummer (15 August 2001)
Interview with C. Bottomley and Rebecca Shapiro for VH1 on 15 August 2001. 7 Questions with Joe Strummer. VH1.com (15 August 2001).
- I try and keep an ear out and keep an open mind and enjoy something where I don't know what the hell is going on inside of it. That's what I really get out of it. Because to me it's new. That's what I get out of it. That joyful feeling of you don't know what's going to happen next.
- I like to just feel how I feel and not worry about it really.
Strummer talks war and music (13 November 2001)
BBC News Online's Martin Vennard interviews Joe Strummer at the Womad Festival in the Canaries. Vennard, Martin (13 November 2001). Strummer talks war and music. Entertainment. BBC NEWS World Ed..
- I think you have to grow up and realise that we're facing religious fanatics who would kill everyone in the world who doesn't do what they say. The more time you give them the more bombs they'll get. Bin Laden is going to try and kill more people. It helps the fanatics.
- Singing into a cold wind is the worst nightmare for any singer. You could hear it in the voice.
- We got all the influences for it [Global a Go-Go] from Willesden High Road. When you go out for milk and cigarettes you go through three countries because all the shops and cafes are playing their own music, like going through hell.
- About Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros' album Global a Go-Go (2001) and about the song writing process.
Joe Strummer: Putting a Scare into he Hearts of All Things Corporate (2002)
Interview with Mariah Hasagawa. Hasagawa, Mariah. Joe Strummer: Putting a Scare Into The Hearts of All Things Corporate. Post-Global 2002 CRCRadio.net.
- I'd define it as self-awareness: an ability to trust your own judgment. An ability to see through veils of bullshit or spins on stories or propaganda. Maybe an ability to think for yourself.
- About punk.
- I think that the corporation is running it and will always make it appeal to the lowest common denominator. I think we're going to have to forget about the radio and just go back to word of mouth.
- About mainstream radio.
- It's good to be sent back to the underground. There's always a good side to bad things and the good side to this is that at least everyone has to go back down.
- I'd just like to say to everybody that it's best to check out the independent life: the independent stores and the independent everybodies. We should try not to give our money to any corporations, if we can help it.
The Future is Unwritten, directed by Julian Temple.
- There's no tenderness, or humanity in fanaticism. Thats what Rock the Casbah is about.
- All the power's in the hands of people rich enough to buy it.
- Joe Strummer / Mick Jones, "White Riot", The Clash (1977).
- London Calling - Yes, I was there, too,
And you know what they said? Well some of it was true.
London Calling at the top of the dial…
And after all this, won't you give me a smile?
- Joe Strummer / Mick Jones, "London Calling", London Calling (1979).
- You have the right not to be killed, unless it was done by a policeman or an aristocrat.
- The Clash, "Know Your Rights", Combat Rock (1982).
- No man's land. There ain't no asylum here.
King Solomon he never lived 'round here.
- The Clash, "Straight to Hell", Combat Rock (1982).
- When freedom rises from the killing floor,
No lock of iron or rivet can restrain the door.
And no kind of army can hope to win a war
Like trying to stop the rain or still the lion`s roar,
Like trying to stop the whirlwind scattering seeds and spores
Like trying to stop the tin cans rapping out jailhouse semaphore.
Quotes about Joe Strummer
- Alphabetized by author
- [Joe] Strummer was the driving force who helped give punk its "political edge". I have a great admiration for the man. His most recent records are as political and edgy as anything he did with The Clash. His take on multi-cultural Britain in the 21st century is far ahead of anybody else. Without Joe, there's no political Clash and without The Clash the whole political edge of punk would have been severely dulled."
- Billy Bragg, News 24, BBC, 23 December 2002.
- I know for a fact they were offered huge amounts of money. They just said no, that isn't really what we stood for. That's truly admirable. They were very important musically but as a person, he was a very nice man.
- Bob Geldof, One O'Clock News, BBC1, 23 December 2002.
- It's taken Joe's death to make me realise just how big The Clash were. We were a political band and Joe was the one who wrote the lyrics. Joe was one of the truest guys you could ever meet. If he said 'I am behind you', then you knew he meant it 100 per cent.
- Nick "Topper" Headon, The Clash's drummer, 6 January 2003.
- "Joe Strummer, God bless him, he's gone and he shall be missed. But how dare he preach class war with an organisation like that [the late '80s Rock Against The Rich movement]. Living in a huge house in Holland Park. Every photo opportunity to be seen on a bus in his leather jacket, and then he went back to a palace. You're not getting it quite right there! That's where his image mattered more to him than the reality. He was trying to con us. In a nice way and for the right reasons but once you start lying it carries on and on and on.
- John Lydon, The Mojo Interview, March 2006.
- Note: In 1982, Strummer and Gaby Salter lived in a rented flat above an antique shop in Portland Road in Holland Park. During March 1983, they bought and moved to a terraced building in Lancaster Road in Notting Hill which was similar to the houses Strummer used to squat.
- Like thousands of teenagers growing up in the '70s, punk and The Clash changed my life in a fundamental way. Their mixture of politics and music shaped my beliefs and tastes and made me the person I am today. Christmas is ruined.
- Moby, Moby's Journal, 23 December 2002.
- The Clash are the kind of garage band who should be returned to the garage immediately, preferably with the engine running, which would undoubtedly be more of a loss to their friends and families than to either rock or roll.
Their guitarist on the extreme left, allegedly known as Joe Strummer, has good moves but he and the band are a little shaky on ground that involves starting, stopping and changing chords at approximately the same time."
- Charles Shaar Murray, NME, 1976 (source).
- Joe would go into everything at a million miles an hour and then change his mind.
- Bernard Rhodes (source).
- [In 1982] Joe and Gaby were still living in their rented flat above an antique shop in Portland Road in Holland Park. [...]During March 1983, Joe and Gaby finally bought somewhere to live. The blue terraced building of 37, Lancaster Road in Notting Hill was situated a matter of yards away from Ladbroke Grove and the Westway, and was exactly the type of house Joe used to squat in his 101'ers days.
- Chris Salewicz, Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer (2008) Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0865479828