It was December 22, 2002, when Joe Strummer suffered a fatal cardiac event in the kitchen of his house after a walk with his dog. Even though the man had been in good shape–he used to run marathons, after all–there was a congenital condition lurking in his heart that had gone undetected. Joe was just 52.
The Telegraph has this look back that includes comments from the four surviving original members of the Clash and to talk about a brand new super-comprehensive box set.
As the memory of rock’s golden age in the Sixties and Seventies fades, the music of the era’s biggest groups, from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones, has attained the status of crown jewels, reissued and repackaged in ever more glittering packages. Joining this elite with a new lavish box set are the Clash, the west London band whose furious energy at punk’s inception in 1976 drove them through an inventive five-album career, before they fell apart, exhausted, in 1983.
All four members struggled to acclimatise thereafter, not least their soul-searching frontman Joe Strummer, who in later life struggled with a sense of hopelessness trying to live up to the impact of the Clash.
Yet, on Strummer’s passing in 2002, there was a worldwide outpouring of grief, and the band quickly ascended into the heritage-rock premier league. Every year, there are new films and DVDs; every month, magazine front covers; and now, this comprehensive box set.
“It’s for us, more than anybody,” says Mick Jones, the Clash’s guitarist and in-house musical genius, when I meet the three surviving members in an interview to discuss this mammoth retrospective, the first time all three have talked together since Nicky “Topper” Headon was booted out of the band in 1982. TitledSound System, it’s a fabulous pop objet d’art, which comes in a hefty, flip-top carton, designed by their bassist, Paul Simonon, to resemble the ghetto-blaster tape players which the band used to lug around on tour.