Joe Strummer’s 61st Birthday – continue to celebrate and motivate

20 August 2013 Under: Clash Memories, Joe Strummer

Welcome back to the blog on a date that is forever going to remain Joe Strummer’s Birthday. I don’t know if any famous battles or inventions, voyages of discovery or weddings took place on August 21st but for me this remains quite simply Joe’s day and the more cheerful of the two anniversaries that we mark on the calendar each year. Joe should have turned 61 years old today, I can’t fathom that we’ve been over ten and a half years without him.

As I approach fifty I realise many of you are doing the same or have passed that landmark – suddenly the brevity of Joe’s life seems even more apparent. When I look back at video of concerts or interviews during his days with The Mescaleros it was a renaissance taking place and the end never looked even vaguely imminent. It still seems more than a little surreal and as we age Joe is forever caught in our memories as the young man who fronted The Clash or we may reflect on a dash of Joe in his late forties enjoying finding a hard working band again and his audience who were thrilled to see him touring again. It’s a good memory – a happy memory – and one that I tend to celebrate rather than sit here and feel gloomy or despondent.

Of course and naturally he’s missed, he meant the world to me growing up – and while I can’t tell you the birthdays or specific quotes from people I was closer to in a family sense I can relay information about Joe and the rest of the band until people get sick of listening. People might not understand us but having something constant in your life and someone you care about from an early age is at once motivating and grounding, Joe Strummer became a beacon to me when I was about twelve and remains so now. I can’t say that about many people.

So as ever I implore you to try not to mourn Joe Strummer not being with us now but to celebrate his life, celebrate how he inspired you and most importantly of all take that inspiration to do something positive in your own life and how you relate to the people you know and the strangers you meet. For all of the records and concerts, lyrics and photographs – the part of Joe that seems to carry in people’s memories who knew him well was his love for people and his love for life, meeting people and understanding them. He ultimately did have faith in humanity and community and while that can seem almost impossible to find during the tough times I think it’s a perfectly good starting point for us all.

It’s a strange feeling at the moment as the box set is bringing The Clash back into the mainstream focus the last few months and as a result the media and more casual observers are queuing up to explain how great the band were. There’s nothing wrong with that at all but at times like these and seeing pictures of the three members of The Clash today just reminds me that we’re missing such a vital ingredient and yeah that truly aches. I’m sure even more so for Mick, Topper and Paul.

The music will always endure and the whole concept of a ‘legacy’ is whatever definition you choose to impart upon it – not what the press and radio personalities tell us. But you already knew that. Whatever Joe means to you I respect 100% and I feel united by knowing that you read this from almost every country on the planet to stay connected as Clash fans, as Joe fans or simply as people who shared a unique experience that still I hope guides us to some degree. I recently read ‘Vision of a Homeland’ and it seems Joe thought the whole internet community was both odd and intriguing at the same time, I think he would have ended up being part of the medium because he loved people and connecting wit them.

joe strummer 600x400 birthday Joe Strummers 61st Birthday   continue to celebrate and motivate

Of course I wish Joe were still here, I wish I could moan about having to spend $60 to see him in Los Angeles in a few months and wonder how the 8th Mescaleros album was going to sound. I wish I was writing this blog and hopefully trying to  find a way to chat to him for five minutes about it and remind him (as if he needed that) just how much he has meant to us, insist he answer a few blog questions if he had time. No matter how much I wish all of those things I’m more grateful to the fact that he was there for twenty odd years in my life and remains so still today. If you have a nephew or niece or a child of your own share with them your experience and chuck on some Clash records, it won’t shock you to find out that time doesn’t soften the message.

Not for the first time I’ve rambled on too long – today’s blog is about your thoughts not mine. So in time-honoured tradition please feel free to share  your birthday messages, memories or comments below. Whatever you fancy works for me, a lyric, photo or video link – completely up to you.

I won’t have much time to update the blog today but I will make sure they all appear on the birthday post forever.

Cheers Joe and a happy 61st birthday to you, thanks for everything.






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23 responses to “Joe Strummer’s 61st Birthday – continue to celebrate and motivate”

  1. daveb013 says:

    Tim-Your words are very heartfelt to me. Very good to hear from another fan of Joe’s. I have Dec22 marked on my computer calendar, but I guess should have today as well. Cheers(Raise a pint) db

  2. march kusmin says:

    Great stuff,, and abighappyBday2Joe,,

  3. daveh says:

    today is joe’s 61st birthday , it also happens to be my 52nd. i would always raise a glass to him , still do. i loved the clash since 1977. i miss joe terribly something i find hard to explain even to my wife. glad i met him in leeds in 2001. the mescaleros were great. have pre-ordered the box set and applied for the bbc6 show. it would be great to meet the rest of the band. sorry for the rambling. JOE STRUMMER R.I.P.

    • JennL says:

      My family doesn’t quite get why I was so upset over the passing of Joe either. I can’t explain it to them and they will just never get it since their lives obviously were not as impacted as ours. I’m just glad to know that others out there feel the same way I do.

  4. Pete Stevens says:

    Almost exactly a year ago I was immersed in photographing the ‘Strummer Of Love’ festival in Somerset. It was with the idea of producing a photographic book documenting the event as completely as possible. It was finally completed a few weeks ago, but I decided to wait until Joe’s birthday to make it available to the world. It’s available exclusively via and for each copy sold it will raise money for The Joe Strummer New Music Foundation. I’ve managed to get some exclusive written contributions from Mick Jones, Topper Headon, Joe’s widow Lucinda, Ray Gange, Robin Banks, Nick & Vicki Sheppard and many others. All the photos are exclusive and have never been published before. I’m pretty sure Joe would approve and it’s just a shame I can’t send him a copy too !

  5. Gracias por tus palabras…
    Me tomaré un “tóxico” en ‘El Jo’ por Joe y a vuestra salud, en el concierto de esta noche de ‘El Doghouse’ de Richard Dudanski.
    Joe, ¡te quiero infinito!

  6. Fadda Phil the Rockin Rev says:

    I was a young Episcopal priest (Anglican church) when I heard the first Clash album- it changed my life! Joe’s message of social justice was a welcome relief from the commercial crap music I’d been listening to. I formed my own punk band and we did Clash covers as well as our own social justice anthems. I still miss Joe and his inspirational message every day. I am also the same age as my hero- the first Clash show I saw remains the greatest concert I have ever seen. Thank you, Joe. You have been an amazing gift to my life!

  7. jonzip says:

    Tim, your blog was as heartfelt, as ever. the great thing about The Clash community is the warmth of each individual, which always rises to the surface when discussing Joe. truly gone but never forgotten.
    The Zips tribute single to Joe, Road To Strummerville, still available to download from iTunes/ tunes/etc. proceeds to Strummerville.
    I knew him, but not really
    I saw him, but he didn’t see me….

  8. JennL says:

    Tim, you summed up my feelings perfectly! While it makes me sad that he is no longer with us and writing, recording and performing new music, this is definitely a day to celebrate all that he gave us in the short time he was here. He was larger than life and used his talent to spread a message of positivity and one of caring about your fellow man and trying to improve the world in which we live. Thank goodness we have the music and the words to provide continued inspiration to us and the new generations of Clash fans that become hooked on their music every day. I still remember the first time I heard London Calling as a 5 year old and became utterly mesmerized by Joe and his passionate delivery. I’ve been a huge fan of the band, and Joe specifically, ever since. When I feel a bit defeated by life’s pressures, nothing helps fire me up and makes me determined to make positive changes like the words of Clampdown or White Riot. I start every day with the Magnificent Seven and listen to Joe with the Clash and the Mescalaeros throughout my day as I work. His music is the soundtrack of my life. Thank you Joe for all you have given us and the inspiration you continue to provide to me personally. You are the greatest and will live on in our hearts and through the great music you gifted us.

  9. Kari says:

    Thank you so much, Tim, for those really lovely words. Thank you for reminding us to keep this a day of celebration, as hard as that may be without Joe amongst us.
    My dear Joe, it’s been just over eleven years since I met you and you gave me the most important advice I will ever receive. I know you’re keepin good somewhere, all my love.

  10. Tony says:

    Once again well said Tim. Joe & the Clash have had a profound effect on my life and beliefs. This was never more evident than when Joe died. I still find it hard to understand how the death of someone that I never actually met could affect me so much.

    I’m listening to Yalla Yalla as I type this and will be raising a glass to Joe later this evening.

  11. pete says:

    Nice words. Thanks for your thoughts.

  12. Gordon says:

    Whilst driving through Glasgow I noticed a Big Issue seller and the current issue has The Clash on it. Will walk in soon and get it, has anybody else bought one ? Any good ?

  13. Anthony says:

    I share Joe’s birthday, August 21st. He will always be 15 years older than me since I was born in 1967. I grew up a hard core Beatles fan, then the Smiths, Radiohead, etc. Always liked The Clash during my 20’s and 30’s but never “loved” them. No particular reason for that. I liked some of the songs I heard but never dove deep. About 12 years ago, someone gave me a copy of London Calling (remastered) and my love affair started. I love that album, then I started listing to the others….then most recently Sandinista!…..I love The Clash, I love Joe. I love what he stood for. I miss him like I miss John Lennon and George Harrison. All artists, all gone way too soon. I love you Joe!

  14. The Baker says:

    Very well said Tim, no further comment needed I think.

  15. Wonky Drummer says:

    Joe Strummer -- gone but not forgotten. Indeed, well remembered. Still impacting positively on the world. Still inspiring and encouraging active, creative lives. Still drawing people together. Still helping me muster the will and the strength to get out of the goddamn bed in the morning, face the world and engage with life with a positive attitude. Thanks Joe.

  16. I’m sitting here in tears because of this post. I’ve been gearing up to remember and celebrate him on Sunday, and I thought maybe this time I wouldn’t cry, but I have off and on all week. I know that it isn’t bad to cry, but man, it still hurts so freaking much.

    Thank you for your post. Remember to stay free and dance.

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