Classic Hits & Oldies

Late Clash frontman Joe Strummer was born 70 years ago this Sunday

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Joe Strummer in 1999; Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

This Sunday, August 21, would’ve been the 70th birthday of the late Joe Strummer, frontman of the hugely influential British punk band The Clash.

Strummer, who was born John Mellor, joined the group that became The Clash in 1976 after playing in a pub rock band The 101’ers.

Known for his gruff vocals and intense performance style, Strummer co-wrote nearly all The Clash’s original songs, usually with the group’s lead guitarist and second singer Mick Jones. The band was initially best known for their fast, hard-charging songs that featured left-leaning political and social themes, although the group also embraced reggae.

The Clash later experimented with hip hop, funk, and other musical genres.

The band enjoyed immediate commercial success in the U.K., but it wasn’t until their third album, the 1979 double-LP London Calling, that the group began garnering major attention in the U.S.

The album peaked at #27 on the Billboard 200 and featured the memorable title track, as well as the Jones-sung “Train in Vain,” which reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Clash’s fifth album, 1982’s Combat Rock, was their commercial high point, peaking at #7 on the Billboard 200 and featuring the #8 Hot 100 hit “Rock the Casbah.”

After The Clash broke up in 1986, Strummer released various of solo projects. He also contributed songs to a number of movie soundtracks, and composed the score to the 1987 film Walker. Joe also acted in several films, including 1989’s Mystery Train.

Strummer’s recorded his last few albums with The Mescaleros, a group that combined various musical influences.

Strummer died in December 2002 of a heart attack cause by an undiagnosed heart defect. He was 50.

Joe was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with The Clash in 2003.

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