Joe Strummer Mural New York

Deep in the heart of Manhattan in the the East Village stands a building with a brick wall. Nothing remarkable about that of course except on that wall is painted something very significant to Clash fans and of Joe Strummer in particular. Of course it’s the Joe Strummer mural and it’s become a part of the city scene and a place of pilgrimage to fans of Strummer when they visit New York City.

I’d mentioned in an earlier post about the fact that back in February the mural was ‘updated’ and the changes are causing some debate. Incidentally if you need a map it’s located right here and is on the SE corner. Type Avenue A and East 7th Avenue in google maps if that doesn’t work.

The mural (as it was) gained added notoriety by featuring in the video for Redemption Song which shows the creation of it and a series of images of fans posing in front of it.

Anyway on to the debate, the original mural appears to the right. It featured Rastafarian colours and Joe appears in sunglasses, leather jacket over shoulder looking ready for business.

joe mural 1 300x225 Joe Strummer Mural New York

The original mural

Know Your Rights, The Future is Unwritten and Joe Strummer 1952-2002 adorn the mural.  It was created (in a great nod to The Clash) by graffiti artists Zephyr and Dr. Revolt in the Spring of 2003. Both artists are on the highest pantheon of the New York graffiti scene. On February 8 of this year Dr. Revolt to freshen up the mural (he had always removed any vandal tags and touched it up during the intervening 6 years) and made some wholesale changes to the mural.

The revised image is below and shows a number of changes. The background colours have been modified to include more orange than the original red. Joe looks to have lost some weight as his face is slimmer and the jacket is no longer over his shoulder. Most prominently is that the bottom of the mural now features the New York skyline. The debate has been primarily from those who preferred the original image and are calling for it to be returned to it’s former state.

jor mural 2 300x199 Joe Strummer Mural New York

The revised mural

Initially I was shocked to see it changed and my gut was the original was better, on reflection I think it was because that was what I was used to. It’s a bit like hearing Sandinista! for the first time. What do you think of the new one?

Where I stand is this; go ahead and revise it every few years. Keep the core elements the same. Of more importance is to ensure it’s maintained if vandalized and given a fresh coat every other spring to keep it bold in the city. Fundamentally what I hope most is that in 10,20 or 50 years time a 14 year old kid who’s just learning guitar walks past it with his Mum or Dad and asks ‘Who was Joe Strummer and what did he stand for?’ That would be perfect.

I’ve seen other Strummer/Clash images as wall painting, tributes, murals etc  and I’ll collect and share them with you in a later post.

***addendum*** (7/16) The visitors to this site are simply brilliant, a clash city blogger EV Grieve from the East Village in NYC was kind enough to share this news about another piece of New York Clash art :

Last week, in another part of New York City’s East Village, the unthinkable happened. Another iconic Clash mural was painted over!

That’s tragic…


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31 responses to “Joe Strummer Mural New York”

  1. I get that it's all about remembering Joe but I liked the original. It was just about Joe and it happened to be in New York. Now it's about Joe and New York.

  2. Jesse says:

    I like the original pose better, and I think the rastafarian colors are more evident there too. Regardless I think it's pretty cool either way. If I ever go to NY again (been before but it was before the mural), it'll be on my list on things to see.

  3. Andres Kabel says:

    New York is one of my favourite cities and I had no idea about this mural! I was there in '07 and could have tracked it down. I'm with the other commentators -- the original was better, but hey, what other cities have Strummer murals?

  4. Jesse says:

    For anybody who hasn't seen it, watch the "Redemption Song" video on the sidebar. Great video of the making of the mural.

  5. EV Grieve says:

    Last week, in another part of New York City's East Village, the unthinkable happened. Another iconic Clash mural was painted over!

  6. Signpost #5 says:

    […] Strummer mural? No, I did not, because Tim’s blog wasn’t around then, was it? Check out his post on the wonderful wall picture and its evolution. This entry was posted in Spirit of Clash. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a […]

  7. […] eh… You’re probably (hopefully) fully aware of the Joe Strummer mural in New York City? If not check this link when I featured it last Summer. In the meantime a long way South it looks like another rendition of the piece of art has popped […]

  8. Rudie says:

    Where is it? The Google Maps link points to Manhattan. Can you be more specific?

  9. […] we’d have so much to cover in the last eleven months but from Clash postage stamps to a new Joe Strummer mural makeover in New York, The Mick Jones R+R Public Library, Strummerville events, Paul and Mick with […]

  10. Alex says:

    I like the new one… It reminds me of a part in Westway to the World, where Joe is talking about the first time the band went to New York… "Fantastic", he called it. And for some reason, it also reminds me of a clip I keep seeing, the band's listening to a group of kids rapping, and they're tiptoeing across some brick wall.

  11. Superface says:

    I like the original one ! Do you know who directed the video clip ?

  12. […] began with meeting Niki (my client) near the Niagra in the morning, where there is a really awesome Joe Strummer mural. If you are a Clash fan like me, or even just a fan of Joe’s, I recommend you check it out. […]

  13. I like the original better, when I visited it last year I literally almost cried. After that day I decided to do my own mural in Lima at the roof of my apartment in Lima, Peru. I even made a video out of it (

    Joe I miss you

  14. Pete Stevens says:

    Hey Jimmy Rastaman, that's brilliant ! This is the sort of stuff Joe would've loved, just bringing people together around the world. I remember the pleasure and surprise in his voice when he was told about the number of people who listened to the BBC World Service. It's great that I can see your mural being created from here in west London !! One world. One love !

  15. […] other Clash graffiti that previously adorned Manhattan as I’ve written about in the past. We’ve previously compared the original mural with the new one which added the New York skyline and the consensus was for the original version. Such a bunch of […]

  16. […] The Clash Blog has more on the history of the Joe Strummer mural. […]

  17. […] photos at Washington Square Park?” I asked coyly. “Fine, but I want photos by the Joe Strummer mural.” I swooned. “Not a […]

  18. […] musica: Bob Marley e la sua “Redemption song”.  Nel video si vede la creazione del murales dedicato a Joe Strummer che si trova nell’East Village di New […]

  19. […] York has a mural of Joe, Granada has an entire Plaza in his honour and although London might have a subway unofficially […]

  20. Hey, simply had been mindful of your website via Google, and located that it is really useful. My goal is to be aware of belgium’s capital. I’ll be relieved in case you continue this kind of from now on. A great many other people is often took advantage of a person’s composing. Kind regards!

  21. […] Waiting on our theme song from Tim Jensen. Kevin goes to see Franz Ferdinand & Death Cab for Cutie…he is too old! Randal recommends The Postal Service (Death Cab’s singer). Randal talks about the Pogues in NYC. Watch the first song here. (A little shaky but good shots of the crowd). Mike sometimes plays with The Mahones & The Peelers. Randal got his tickets through StubHub. Randal and Mike visit the Joe Strummer mural. […]

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