December 22, 2002: Joe Strummer dies
The most righteous punk of his generation, Joe Strummer lived a teenage adolescence that befit his music: he dropped out of school, busked in London Underground stations, and hopscotched between rock bands. By the time he formed the Clash in 1976, he was a seasoned pro with ties to all the vibrant subcultures – early rock, reggae, counterculture and racial politics – that would make his band legendary.
Born John Graham Mellor in Ankara, Turkey, the guitarist played prominently on all the hit albums in the Clash's catalog. His parts were melodic but suffused with urgency; he exuded life even in the band's quieter moments. Their barbed, intelligent London Calling, on which he was the primary writer, had an immediate effect on the international music scene and was voted the best album of the 1980s by Rolling Stone.
After leaving the Clash in 1986, Strummer stayed active, performing with the Mescaleros and the Pogues and contributing to soundtracks. He was also socially active as a fundraiser for numerous charities and an organizer of the Future Forests ecological program. He died from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect in 2002, at age 50.
December 24, 2003: Jack White turns himself into police on aggravated assault charges against Jason Stollseimer of the Von Bondies
Jack White, the cheerily eccentric maestro of the White Stripes, shocked his fans when he finally showed a darker side. On December 13, 2003, White brawled with Jason Stollsteimer, singer of the Von Bondies, at a Detroit rock club; several witnesses claimed later that White had initiated the fight after Stollsteimer refused to speak to him. Stollsteimer filed a police complaint that evening, then White filed a cross-complaint insisting that he had not acted aggressively.
However, White turned himself into Detroit police approximately a week later, on Christmas Eve. Faced with a charge of aggravated assault, he pleaded guilty to assault and battery and paid approximately $750 in fines and court fees. He was also ordered to attend anger management classes.
When the sentencing was complete, White's lawyer, Wally Piszczatowski, snarked to the press: "We're very happy with the result and we're happy that the most highly celebrated bar-scuffle in the history of the city of Detroit has finally come to an end."
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