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Joe Strummer was a British singer, songwriter and guitarist best known as the co-founder and member of the punk rock band The Clash.
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Songs such as "White Riot," "London's Burning" and "I'm So Bored With the U.S.A." have become punk rock anthems. As front man, writer and motivational force behind The Clash, Joe Strummer and his band became one of the most influential, expansive and enduring groups to come out of the 1976 British punk rock explosion.
In January 1977, The Clash signed with CBS Records for £100,000 and the band recorded their self-titled album. With a seemingly lucrative record deal, some criticized the band for "selling out." Despite the criticism from fans, critics lavished The Clash with praise. Rolling Stone magazine called their first record the "definitive punk album." It included a surprise track—a cover of Junior Murvin's "Police and Thieves"—that would later be considered a precursor to the songs and style of later Clash albums. The Clash's London Calling album was also voted Best Album of the 1980s by Rolling Stone magazine.
Also released in 1980 was the band's fourth studio album, the epic triple album Sandinista!. The album reached beyond punk rock to include a "world music" sound that included reggae, rockabilly and rap. Strummer's "Washington Bullets" expressed the singer's most direct political statement about conflicts and worldwide controversies including those in Chile, Nicaragua, Cuba, Afghanistan, and Tibet. In support of the album, The Clash went on a tour that included the historic 17 consecutive dates at Bond's International, a club located in Time's Square, NYC.
After the 1982 album Combat Rock, Terry Chimes, who had left the group, rejoined the band after drummer Topper Headon had been dismissed due to his growing heroin addiction. Friction and feuding increased within the group during this period and in 1983, after opening for The Who on what would be their final U.S. tour, Strummer fired bandmate Mick Jones.
The other complications came from the group's label. For Strummer the band, the 10-record deal with CBS became a "prison sentence." Relationships with the record company were strained, which led to promotion problems and poor early sales in the United States. After six albums and many hit singles, The Clash officially broke up in 1986.
After the split, Strummer went on to contribute two songs to the soundtrack of the 1986 film Sid and Nancy and appeared in the films Walker (1987), Straight to Hell (1987), Mystery Train (1989), and I Hired a Contract Killer (1990). He continued to write and contribute to soundtracks, most notably for the 1997 film Grosse Pointe Blank which starred long-time fan, John Cusack.
Strummer was temporarily a member of the Irish group The Pogues, a band influenced by the political artistry of The Clash. Their own iconic singer, Shane MacGowan, had left the group due to alcohol problems.
Having worked on a number of soundtracks, he released his first solo album, Earthquake Weather, in 1989. During the 1990s, Strummer formed the backing band The Mescaleros.
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