Former Clash frontman and punk music pioneer Joe Strummer (1952-2002) was born John Graham Mellor on this day in Ankara, Turkey, the son of a British diplomat he grew up living all over the world. On playing his first instrument, the ukulele, he said "I figured it must be easier, having four strings."
The singer/guitarist/songwriter inspired a generation of musicians and fans with innovation and the gift of honesty and passion. With his trademark impassioned vocals, his music celebrated the deep feelings of love, anger, and fear.
The Clash, formed in 1976, scored 16 top 40 hits including Rock the Casbah, Bankrobber, and I Fought the Law. The group's third album, London Calling, was named the greatest album of the 80s by Rolling Stone magazine.
"The way you get a better world is you don't put up with substandard anything," he once said.
After the Clash's split in the early 80s, Strummer continued making music with the Pogues and most recently, the Mesceleros. With a passionate conviction that music could change the world, Strummer was a well-respected activist, always vying for the underdog. He moved people in a political way.
"I get my energy from the idea of ideas. The notion of a good idea or the thought of a good idea," Strummer said.
About a month after learning that The Clash had been inducted into the Hall of Fame, Stummer died of a heart attack. Wallflower singer Jakob Dylan said in tribute, "God bless Joe Strummer. You were not a punk. You played punk, but you were a king."
More ROCK Quotations
Keep your priorities straight.