As one of the key members of the seminal British punk rock band the Clash, Joe Strummer, along with bandmate and fellow songwriter Mick Jones, helped influence a generation of musicians with his mix of crashing guitars and political rhetoric.
Born John Graham Mellor in Ankara, Turkey on August 21, 1952, Strummer grew up in a middle-class family, the son of a British diplomat. Fascinated by music and the guitar, he was accepted into the Center School of Art as a young man, but was unhappy with the experience. During the early 1970s, Strummer spent time busking in the London Underground before forming the pub-rock band the 101'ers.
In 1976, while achieving a small measure of success with the group, Strummer attended a Sex Pistols concert and decided that the pub-rock scene was dead. He immediately left the 101'ers and soon met Mick Jones who led a band called the London SS. Strummer joined the band and they re-christened themselves the Clash.
The Clash soon became hugely successful in England, blending punk with tones of reggae, dub and rockabilly and maintaining a straight-faced leftist political ideology. Albums like The Clash (1977), Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978), and London Calling (1979) became instant punk classics and their influence even extended into mainstream rock. With the release of Sandinista! in 1980, the Clash finally became a hit in America, and continued with 1982's Combat Rock, which contained the mainstream hit "Rock the Casbah."
In 1983, Jones left the Clash. Strummer continued on, releasing Cut the Crap in 1985, but the album was a failure and the Clash officially disbanded the following year. Since then, Strummer has worked on a variety of projects including acting (Straight to Hell, Mystery Train), movie scoring (Permanent Record, Grosse Pointe Blank) and a solo record (1989's Earthquake Weather). In addition, he briefly joined the Pogues in 1990 as a rhythm guitarist and vocalist. Most recently, Strummer recorded a song with Electric Dog House for the punk compilation Generations I: A Punk Look at Human Rights (1997). He has also appeared on the animated television show "South Park" in 1998 and recorded vocals for a song on the show's forthcoming soundtrack, Chef's Aid.
The following year Strummer debuted his new group, dubbed The Mescaleros, on his first solo album in 10 years, Rock Art and the X-Ray Style. In 2001, he released his latest album, Global A Go-Go, perhaps his most eclectic effort to date.