The definitive biography of Joe Strummer, released with a new epilogue to mark the 60th anniversary of his birth.
Chris Salewicz was an intimate friend of Strummer’s for over 25 years. Drawing on more than 300 interviews with family, friends and associates, this is a comprehensive, compelling insight into the man behind The Clash.
The Clash was the most influential band of its generation, producing punk anthems including ‘London Calling’, ‘White Riot’ and ‘Tommy Gun’. For countless fans across the world, they are the ultimate iconic mainstays of their generation.
With his talent, extreme good looks and laid-back attitude Joe Strummer was the driving force behind the band: he was the archetypal punk frontman. His untimely death in December 2002 shook the world to its core.
Written with full approval and co-operation of relatives, companions and fellow musicians, this is the ultimate account of one of British rock & roll’s most fascinating idols: his life, his work and his immeasurable impact on the world.
Redemption Song is the best and last word on the subject.
‘Salewicz knew and loved his subject well, and that shows on every page… One of the most rivetingly detailed, revealing music biographies ever written.’ The Sunday Times
'A great read. Brutally frank and full of insights.' Mojo
‘A riveting read that will keep you gripped to the end.’ Daily Mirror
'The Clash front man gets the epic biography he deserves from rock journalist, Chris Salewicz.' Independent
‘Conjures up the excitement of the punk era.’ Sunday Telegraph Seven Magazine
About the author
Chris Salewicz is an acclaimed music journalist and writer. He worked at the NME in the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s and has written extensively for the Sunday Times and Q magazine.
His previous books include Bob Marley: The Untold Story and the Sunday Times bestseller This Is A Call: The Life And Times of Dave Grohl.
In this biography of punk icon Joe Strummer, music writer Salewicz focuses on the heady days of the punk explosion and Strummer's long hiatus after leaving the Clash. Born John Graham Mellor in 1952 in Ankara, Turkey, to diplomat parents, Strummer enjoyed a peripatetic childhood before being parked at a British boarding school. An art school dropout, Strummer (who was known then as "Woody") lived a hand-to-mouth existence in London squats before rock impresario Bernie Rhodes selected him to head a new punk band, and Woody became Joe Strummer, the sardonic, gravelly voiced rabble rouser. For a long moment, the Clash channeled the most progressive elements in pop culture, blending punk anger, rasta vibes, bank robbers, cowboys and revolutionary traditions into music that remains compelling today. After the band's breakup in 1985, Strummer fell into a long depression that Salewicz attributes to heavy pot smoking and a family legacy that included his brother's suicide. Yet Strummer had revitalized his career and was making excellent music before his sudden death of heart failure in 2002. As a young writer in the punk years, Salewicz had plenty of access to Strummer, and does a good job of providing a blow-by-blow account of the tours and albums. However, Salewicz provides little historical context, thereby diminishing the importance of the Clash. Despite nearly 600 pages of analysis, Strummer remains an opaque figure.