While the Clash were hardly the only band that ever mattered to me, I personally sure owe a tip-o-the ol’ snout to the one, the only Joe Strummer for most vividly helping me see The Light back in that dark, dank cultural wasteland known as the mid-Seventies.
It was my first-ever night in London, August of 1975, and a friend took me to see The Troggs at the Nashville Room. Opening was a young band called The 101’ers who, I was most amazed to discover, performed almost the precise same set (beginning with the Stones’ roll down “Route 66”) as did my own highschool combo Martin & The E-Chords back there in the Toronto suburbs!
Upon approaching what appeared to be this group’s fearless leader at the bar as the final ocarina’d “Wild Thing” melted into the sweat and smoke overhead, I found myself ear to ear with an intense young man named Joe who most patiently proceeded to listen to me Mersey-beat both gums, carefully quizzed my knowledge of obscure rhythm ‘n’ soul B-sides, then having made his grade enthusiastically directed me crosstown the very next morning to visit a grand new record etc. shoppe sometimes called Let It Rock, other times dba Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die, and currently operating beneath the simple nom-de-anarchie of Sex. “Ask for my mate Malcolm when you go in,” Joe said.
“And keep YOUR band going too!”
Alas however, the E-Chords never did become Canada’s Kings of Pub (as opposed to Punk) Rock four decades ago, but I DID get my fanzine The Pig Paper off the ground shortly after arriving home, again as Joe had implored, and one of the very first records reviewed therein was “Keys To Your Heart” by those very same 101’ers. Great li’l disc it was, and is too …Joe certainly could put across a mean three-minutes-nine whenever push came to strum.
So if I never got the chance to say it ’way back then, lemme just thank Joe right here and now for his long-ago but seldom forgotten Guinness-soaked encouragement, his most astute and visionary indeed advice, and the flawless directions over to Malcolm McLaren’s to boot.
And let’s not all forget to raise a real cool one ourselves come August 21, on what could have been – should have been – the man’s 69th birthday.