What The Clash Means To Me - A Selection Of Tales

On the eve of our Strummerjam gigs, A motley crew, with the exception of Beth, congregated to tell us about what the Clash and Joe Strummer meant to them.
Clash city rockers go.

Beth - Velveteen Riot. Danny Mac - Testifying Time Radio. Royston O'Boogie. - McCann/Everywhere. Niall - The Stumblers. Campbell - NHC. Mainy - NHC.

Joe Strummer defines the term iconic.
Deservedly so, but what was your introduction to Joe?

Beth - The Clash have always been in the background of my life I guess. Growing up with two music geeks as parents, I was constantly surrounded by pretty much every kind of music that exists. My dad’s punk background meant that iconic bands such as the Clash found their way into the growing musical library of mine without me realising.

Royston - Rock Against Racism Carnival in Victoria Park, London, 1978.

Campbell - Sixteen years old and hearing Tommy Gun. That introductory riff caught my ear.

Mainy - Debut album time. A guy at school loaned it to me. Joes slack mouthed raw delivery slapped me upside the head. He just sounded so alive. Still get goosebumps thinking about it.

Niall - I couldn't say exactly when with any confidence, because I was so young, but I heard Joe's voice through the car speakers and my dads HiFi when i was a bambino. I can distinctly remember loving them by the age of 9 and that was 1998.

The Clash were described as the only band that matters. Hyperbolic, or justified?

Beth - I feel that to say that one sole band is the only band that matters is extremely unfair. Taking into consideration Joe Strummer’s wide range of influences, I personally think he’d dislike that statement.

Niall - They are certainly one of the only bands that matter to me! I am biased though. A partly justifiable hyperbole perhaps? 

Royston - Hyperbole. They were fantastic, but by no means the only band that matters, if any band can be said to matter.

Mainy - It's subjective isn't it? There's a lot of bands that matter, and for me the Clash certainly do, but beauty is in the ear of the listener. It was good promo to call them that though.

Campbell - Hyperbolic. Everyone has a band that is the only one that could be said matters to them, but the Clash certainly have enough fans to support the sentiment.

If you were to choose one Clash, or Joe Strummer song, to take to a desert island, then what would it be and why?

Niall - That's a tough question! Simply too many sublime songs to chose from, although for practicality id take "I'm not down" because I'm stuck on a desert island and probably need to tell myself that..

Campbell - Again Tommy Gun. It is the first love appeal.

Beth - Lost in the Supermarket is by far my favourite Clash song so I’d have to say that. I feel it is so important and the anti-consumerist lyrics still resonate with a 21st century audience.

Mainy - Know your rights. Bloody love it. It's so unapologetic.

Danny Mac- That's easy.... Mick Jones tho... Stay Free. I was in London a few years ago... (Sex Pistols Brixton opening night I was front row) I was in Brixton / (Guns Of Brixton). A bus went past with Streatham on the front of the bus... Here's a couple of lines from Stay Free "down streatham on the bus you always made me laugh" "hit the wrong guy each of you get three years in brixton" I was standing in the street thinking all this stuff.. The Clash, Guns Of Brixton, The Sex Pistols, London Streatham Bus, Brixton, Stay Free, the Clash going to record the unbelievable album London Calling the bands third album they went back and forth on the bus cause they had no money... One of those moments in my life i'll never forget.. i'm welling up as i right this..

Royston - White Main in Hammersmith Palais. "If Adolf Hitler flew in today, they'd send a limousine anyway". Truer now than it was then.

It is often said that the world will never see a band like the Clash again. Do you agree, and if not who could fill their boots?

Campbell - They were of their time and that time has past.
The planets will never align like that again. So it can't really be replicated.
So no one.

Royston - The only band like The Clash was The Clash. Other bands may be as good if not better, but they'll never be The Clash.

Mainy - It's like the Highlander quote. There can be only one. There will always be bands with equal amounts of passion and talent, but there is only one Clash.

Niall - I hope so, because I'd be going to see them! I reckon for a band like the clash to exist again people would need to start listening to music with a message again, that's the thing you can't forget about the clash, the music that Joe, Mick, Topper and Paul produced had a pure honesty in it! A message of unity, hope and activism for what is right, Delivered with a venomous boot in the stones. In my opinion they are the greatest band their ever has been and ever will be. Clash! Clash! Clash City Rockers!

Beth- I don’t know if I agree or disagree, that’s a bit of a hard one. I do think that it would be hard to follow their legacy and have another band as influential as The Clash but I haven’t lost hope!

Out of all the stories you have heard about Joe, what one sticks with you?

Beth - I love how he used to help sneak fans who didn’t have tickets into The Clash gigs! But I think my favourite is his response to a patronising journalist telling him that people can’t hear the lyrics in The Clash songs-"yeah, it's a pity too, cause they're really fucking good."

Campbell - The Guns of Brixton story with the police being called.
They were lucky the UK police aren't casually armed or they would never have had the chance to become legendary.

Niall - The story that stands out to me was one about Joe and Mick getting arrested in Glasgow for something or other and being put in the same cell. Mick had trousers on that were covered in little zip pockets and the police didn't check them all! In one of these pockets was a bag of speed and the two of them sat in the cell dabbing speed all night! I love to imagine that scene of the two of them having a laugh even though they were locked up!

Mainy - There's one that Joe tells about meeting Johnny Cash, and he is such a fanboy it comes across as an everyman tale.
So it was about Johnny Cash, but it displayed Joe's enthusiasm and love of music.
It's nice.