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Strummer’s Last Songs Due

Mescaleros guitarist completing final recordings

Before his sudden death on December 22nd, Joe Strummer had been
spending time in studios from Los Angeles to Wales, chipping away
at a new album while touring with his band, the Mescaleros. “He was
working at an energy that wiped us all out,” says Mescaleros
guitarist Martin Slattery.

Most of the songs are not finished, but Slattery says the band
plans to go back in the studio and complete the album for release
later this year. “There are definitely songs waiting to be
finished, just in terms of production — not in terms of lyrics,
vocals and melody,” he says. “I want it to be as close to what Joe
wanted as possible. I think I know what that is.”

Strummer, 50, died as a result of congenital heart failure, with
no warning signs. “We feel like the rug has been pulled from under
our feet,” Clash bassist Paul Simonon told Rolling Stone.
“Joe was really healthy.”

On December 30th, the Mescaleros joined Strummer’s family as
well as Simonon and Clash members Mick Jones and Topper Headon for
a memorial service at the West London Crematorium. Earlier that
day, Strummer’s widow, Lucinda, his two daughters and a
step-daughter joined a procession that wound through many of the
singer’s old haunts in London’s Ladbroke Grove area, including the
pub where Strummer played gigs in the mid-Seventies with his band,
the 101ers. His casket was adorned with bumper stickers reading
“question authority” and “vinyl rules.”

Simonon says that Strummer loved old vinyl LPs. “Joe had moved
to the country,” says Simonon. “He rented my basement to keep a
base in London. We spent many an evening spinning everything from
Lee Hazlewood to Anthony Newley, only to be found asleep in the
morning by my wife, with the table still turning.”

At the service, Strummer was eulogized by Simonon. “It was a
really positive vibe,” says Slattery. “People were standing out in
the rain. After Paul spoke, I played ‘White Man in Hammersmith
Palais,’ and a cheer went up outside. There was a connection.”

The Clash will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
in March, but Simonon insists that even if Strummer were alive, the
band would not have performed at the ceremony. “I think it’s
obvious that we wouldn’t play it,” says Simonon. “The tickets are,
like, $1,500. Can you see that as a right-minded place for a group
like the Clash to reunite? I think it’s a much better story, in a
romantic way, that we didn’t get back together. It’s harder, but
it’s better.”

In other Clash news, a two-CD compilation, The Essential
Clash
will be issued by Legacy on March 11th.

In This Article: The Clash

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