Joe Strummer Dead at Fifty

23 Dec 2002
Clash star Joe Strummer, one of the pioneers of punk rock, has died aged 50.

Strummer had recently been working with Bono and Dave Stewart on their song '48864' for the Mandela-SOS concert which takes place in February.

'The Clash was the greatest rock band,' said Bono. 'They wrote the rule book for U2. Though I was always too much of a fan to get to know him well, we were due to meet in January to finish our Mandela song with Dave Stewart. It's such a shock.'

Strummer, together with Mick Jones (guitar), Paul Simonon (bass) and Terry Chimes (drums), formed The Clash in 1976, releasing their first records the following year. They quickly established themselves as one of the seminal bands in the UK punk explosion, combining raw political passion with a vitriolic energy. Along with the Sex Pistols, they were the figureheads of the punk scene and Bob Geldof - a musical contemporary as frontman for the Boomtown Rats - said he admired their refusal to sell out.

'I know for a fact they were offered huge amounts of money,' he told the BBC's One O'Clock News. '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.'

Among the best known songs of the Clash were London Calling, Should I Stay Or Should I Go, Rock The Casbah and White Riot. 'Within The Clash, Joe was the political engine of the band,' said Billy Bragg. 'And without Joe there's no political Clash and without The Clash the whole political edge of punk would have been severely dulled.'

Organisers of February's HIV/AIDS benefit concert on Robben Island, South Africa have said that 84-year-old Mandela will walk onto the stage to the tune of the new song entitled 48864 - penned for Mandela by Bono, Strummer and Dave Stewart. The number is the one he wore as a prisoner on the island during the apartheid regime.

'It's a great way to close, to chant this number and get Nelson Mandela to walk onto the stage and be able to speak to the world about HIV/Aids," said Stewart, the concert's music coordinator.

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