Birthday: August 21, 1952
Died At Age: 50
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: John Graham Mellor
Born in: Ankara, Turkey
Famous as: Singer, Guitarist
Spouse/Ex-: Lucinda Tait (m. 1995), Pamela Moolman (m. 1975)
father: John Graham Mellor
mother: Anna Mackenzie
children: Jazz Mellor, Lola Mellor
Died on: December 22, 2002
place of death: Broomfield
education: City of London Freemen's School
Joe Strummer was a well-known English musician as well as a singer, songwriter, and actor. He is best remembered as a co-founder and member of the punk rock band ‘The Clash’. Strummer was born in Ankara, Turkey. As his father was a British diplomat, he grew up in different parts of the world. He developed an interest in rock music at an early age, after which he formed the band ‘The Clash’. They released their self-titled debut album soon after; it was an average success. The band’s second album ‘Give Em Enough Rope’ was even a bigger success, peaking at the 2nd position on the UK Charts. Over the next few years, the band released several more hit albums due to which they found much popularity. The Clash disbanded in 1986 following which Strummer focused on his solo career. Strummer had also acted in a few films. His works on the big screen include supporting roles in ‘Mystery Train’ and ‘Candy Mountain’. As a solo artist, he had contributed to the soundtracks of various films such as ‘Sid and Nancy’ and ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’.
Childhood & Early Life
Joe Strummer was born as John Graham Mellor in Ankara, Turkey on 21st August 1952. His mother’s name was Anna Mackenzie and his father’s was Ronald Mellor. His father worked as a British diplomat. Along with his older brother David, Strummer went to the City of London Freemen’s School.
It was during his school years that he discovered his interest in music. He was greatly influenced by the music of artistes and bands like The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Captain Beefheart. Later, as his passion for music grew, he also attended London’s Central School of Art.
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In 1974, he formed the band ‘The 101ers.’ He soon changed his name to Joe Strummer, as he found it to be more suitable for the show business. The band performed a lot, including a few gigs with the band ‘The Sex Pistols’.
In 1976, Joe Strummer formed the band ‘The Clash’ in collaboration with a few other musicians. Though the band became popular, they also became known for getting in trouble with the law quite often. They released their debut album in 1977. It was an average success; it peaked at the 12th position on the UK Albums Chart and at the 126th on the US Billboard 200.
Their next album ‘Give Em Enough Rope’ was a greater success. It peaked at the 2nd position on the UK Albums Chart. It was also praised by critics and named the 87th greatest album of all time by NME magazine.
Their third studio album ‘London Calling’ was released in 1979. It was met with critical acclaim, with many critics calling it one of the best rock albums ever. The album peaked at the ninth position on the UK Albums Chart.
The group continued to find success with their next albums, such as ‘Sandinista!’ (1980), ‘Combat Rock’ (1982) and ‘Cut the Crap’ (1985). All the three albums did well commercially.
After the group split up in 1986, Strummer started working as a solo artist. He contributed to the soundtracks of various films, such as ‘Sid and Nancy’, ‘Straight to Hell’ and ‘Grosse Point Blank’.
For some time, he was also a member of the band ‘The Pogues’ and later ‘The Mescaleros’. He also released a solo album named ‘Earthquake Weather’. It was not a commercial success, but was met with positive reviews from critics.
As an actor, Joe Strummer appeared in several films, mostly in supporting roles. His works on the big screen include ‘The King of Comedy’ (1983), ‘Walker’ (1987), ‘Straight to Hell’ (1987), ‘Candy Mountains’ (1988) and ‘Mystery Train’ (1989).
One of the significant works in Joe Strummer’s career was ‘Give Em Enough Rope’ which was the band’s second studio album. With tracks such as ‘English Civil War’ and ‘Tommy Gun’, the album peaked at the second position on the UK Albums Chart. It was also met with positive reviews from critics. In 1993, NME Magazine named the album as the 87th greatest album of all time.
‘London Calling,’ the third studio album by Strummer’s band ‘The Clash’, is another important work of his career. The album peaked at the ninth position on the UK Albums Chart and on the 27th position on the US Billboard 200. It entered various other charts as well. It received favorable reviews from critics, with some even calling it one of the best albums ever.
‘Mystery Train’ was an American film where Strummer played a supporting role. The film premiered at the New York Film Festival in 1989 and it was met with critical acclaim. However, it was not a commercial success. The film revolved around the stories of three different foreign protagonists in Tennessee who are mysteriously linked by a common thread.
Awards & Achievements
Joe Strummer’s band ‘The Clash’ has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Clash was voted at No. 28 by Rolling Stone on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004.
Joe Strummer’s first marriage was with Pamela Moolman in 1975. However, it was a marriage of convenience as Moolman needed British citizenship and offered Strummer £120 if he agreed to marry her.
Strummer later formed a relationship with Gaby Salter and had two children, Jazz and Lola, with her. But he was not faithful to her and had numerous affairs. He was later married to Lucinda Tait from 1995 till his death in 2002.
Strummer turned vegetarian during his late teens and remained so till his death. He had also co-founded Future Forests, an organization that fights global warming through tree plantation.
He passed away suddenly on 22nd December 2002 due to an undiagnosed heart defect. Even after his death, his work has continued to influence many rock and punk bands.