The legendary Joe Strummer was an enlightening figure who sadly was gone all too soon. Dying on December 22nd in 2002, the lead singer of The Clash left behind a legacy of thought-provoking and utterly authentic work. He was, to all intents and purposes; the real deal.
Shortly before his death in 2002, the singer had turned his talents away from his current band the Mescaleros to radio broadcasting, if only for eight episodes. Those episodes remained strewn across the wastelands of the internet for some time, but now we’ve collated them for a window into the mind, body, and soul of the legendary Joe Strummer.
Part of the reason the episodes have been in so many different places is that the singer took on the radio broadcast in two stints, between 1998 – 1999 and 2000 – 2001. During this time, Strummer lit up the BBC Radio airwaves with some pure and unbridled joy in the form of one of the most eclectic playlists likely ever assembled or as Strummer elegantly put it: “This is Joe Strummer’s London Calling”.
“Joe was the ultimate communicator,” says Julien Temple, director of the Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten documentary. “He made his global audience feel they knew him on a uniquely personal level; intimate, irreverent and inspirational at the same time.” It’s hard to argue with such a crystalline image of a courageous musical figure.
One thing that is very quick and easy to hear from the shows is that Strummer, unlike many of his punk counterparts who often preferred the tabloids to the recording studio, was an avid listener and lover of music. From Balkan folk to the more obscure regions of electro, there wasn’t a genre that Strummer couldn’t find value in—if only for fuel for his burning wit and caustic tongue.
Admittedly, Strummer did have a certain duty to pick tunes from the far reaches of the globe, he was on the BBC’s far-reaching World Service after all, but the fact that he speaks with such authority and veracity on these little known genres and bands shows off his vastly talented ear and an insatiable thirst for new material.
The programme also gave Strummer the chance to flex his radio muscles, a project he was keen to explore from the very beginning, compounded with his now-iconic quote: “If I had five million pounds I’d start a radio station because something needs to be done. It would be nice to turn on the radio and hear something that didn’t make you feel like smashing up the kitchen and strangling the cat.” On London Calling, he was given that very opportunity.
The radio show may not necessarily be Strummer’s finest work. This is a man who is credited with one of the greatest rock albums of all time, after all. But the show does offer a brand new, intelligent and engaged, side of Strummer, one which many musos are unlikely to know of.
Below is a playlist of every ‘Joe Strummer’s London Calling’ show currently circulating the deepest darkest web, they can be found without the litigation here too. It’s a small insight into the passion and purity that Strummer held for music, and the power he truly believed it possessed.
Listen below to some of Joe Strummer’s rarely heard radio shows.
You’ll also find a Spotify playlist to some of the major tracks that Joe put on during his brief tenure as Radio DJ: