The Clash frontman Joe Strummer died at age 50 on this date in 2002. During his all-too-short career, Strummer established himself as one of the truly authentic voices in rock history, both in terms of his music and his activism on and off the stage.
With The Clash guitarist Mick Jones, Strummer co-wrote the band’s enduring and anthemic songs. Alongside fellow primary bandmates, bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Nicky “Topper” Headon (as well as founding drummer Terry Chimes), the group produced memorable and meaningful original compositions that infused globally mined genres and styles. The punk trailblazers did not shy away from bringing their politics into their music, speaking out in support of causes they championed, becoming a voice of underprivileged and persecuted people around the world.
Strummer and The Clash’s legacy is cemented in the fierce music they recorded for countless future generations to find and rally around. The band and its frontman continue to inspire those who hear their courageous and innovative music.
Last year on what would have been Strummer’s birthday, a special livestream event was held featuring an all-star lineup of musicians and others honoring the beloved punk icon. “A Song For Joe: Celebrating the life of Joe Strummer” saw a mix of performances of songs by The Clash and from Strummer’s subsequent solo work, along with testimonials about the late musician’s wide-ranging influence.
Covering many of The Clash’s and Strummer’s inimitable songs were Bob Weir & Jesse Malin (“Death Or Glory”), Lucinda Williams (“Straight To Hell”), Jeff Tweedy (also “Death Or Glory”), Tom Morello (“Bankrobber”), The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn & Tad Kubler (“Washington Bullets”), Butch Walker (“London Calling”), Josh Homme & Troy Van Leeuwen (“Train In Vain”) and others. Malin appeared multiple times and performed the Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros song “Johnny Appleseed.”
Those tributes were interspersed with heartfelt testimonials delivered by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Beto O’Rourke, Fred Armisen, Shepard Fairey, Cait O’Riordan (Pogues), Jim Jarmusch, Matt Dillon, Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes), Sara Driver, H.R. (Bad Brains), Dhani Harrison and more.
The tribute began with previously-unseen footage of Strummer performing “Police On My Back” on November 24, 2001. Watch the full “A Song For Joe: Celebrating the life of Joe Strummer” below: