Chris Salewicz

Books Reviews Chris Salewicz
Chris Salewicz

Strummer calling

The Clash blazed across the punk-rock landscape with its hard-driving sound, progressive politics and unique fusion of rock, reggae and blues, so it’s fitting that renowned music biographer Chris Salewicz has crafted this definitive life-story of legendary Clash frontman Joe Strummer. Salewicz was Strummer’s friend and his level of access to The Clash can only be described as mind-blowing. Salewicz also seems to have interviewed everyone who’d ever known Strummer: Redemption Song thus blends exhaustive detail with a profound appreciation for Strummer’s achievements.

Strummer embodied huge contradictions, notes Salewicz. He’d give all his money to a panhandler one day in kindness, and then, during a post-concert interview, angrily smash a journalist’s tape recorder against the wall. The charismatic, popular Strummer was also the ‘hatchet man’ within The Clash (most famously booting Mick Jones). And while attacking ‘the corporate establishment,’ Strummer worked maniacally in pursuit of fame. “In his battle with himself,” writes Salewicz, “Joe couldn’t win.” For fans of punk rock, this biography is essential reading.

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