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The Day The Punk Music Died

Joe Strummer

First posted on 12/23/2004

Two years ago, on Christmas eve, the e-mail came. I was in Omaha and surprised to see a note from an old college friend. I assumed it was something about Texas Tech winning its bowl game that year. It wasn’t.

“I just read the news about Joe Strummer of The Clash, and I thought of you,” wrote my friend, Gay.

She knew I interviewed The Clash back in 1983. Today, on the wall of my home office, I have a newspaper clipping with two articles from that Christmas season. The stories ran side-by-side — “tombstones” — as they say in the newspaper business. One has a photo of Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury celebrating a win … The other article is a photo and obituary for Joe Strummer, singer and chief political architect of The Clash.

For me and many in my g-g-g-generation, THAT was the day the music died – Dec 22, 2002.

I have kept the tape recordings of my Clash interviews in various safe places for the last 20 years … always hoping to produce some radio program … A small percentage of the interview was used during my college journalism stint. Most of the stuff has never been seen or heard before. And most of the photos have never been published before (see photo gallery on this site).

Even now, I enjoy reading over the comments, but it is so much better hearing Strummer’s thick British accent on the tapes. It takes me back to that morning … so long ago … he and I sat in a booth at a taco joint in Amarillo, Texas … smoking cigs and letting the tape roll. I laugh when I hear the “f-bombs” dropping so freely … but it was the way he talked, part of his rough exterior. (For this site, however, I will delete the expletives and mark those spots with an asterisk so you get the flavor without the bitter aftertaste.) At points in the interview, Strummer sang … or made rhythmic sounds to illustrate a musical point. At one point, he did a pompous, female British voice … mocking then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher … It was classic. (Sounded a bit like Julia Childs, too.)

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