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Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten
Directed by Julian Temple and released in the year 2007 ‘Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten’ is a documentary film on Joe Strummer, the lead vocalist of a highly popular British punk rock band going by the name ‘The Clash’.

The documentary went on to win the Best British Documentary Award at the 2007 edition of British Independent Film Awards. The movie was premiered on January 20, 2007 at the Sundance Film Festival. Furthermore, it was also screened at Dublin Film Festival on February 24, 2007. Its release in the United Kingdom happened on May 18, 2007, and subsequently in Australia on August 31, 2007. In the United States, ‘Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten’ had a limited release on November 2, 2007. Let’s tell you about Joe Strummer in some detail now.

Joe Strummer’s real name was John Graham Mellor and he was born on August 21, 1952 in Antara, Turkey. He adopted Joe Strummer as his stage name. He was brought up in the UK and apart from being an excellent singer, Joe was a good songwriter, actor, rhythm guitarist and lyricist too. He co-founded the band ‘The Clash’ in the year 1976, which made a huge name for itself in the punk rock arena of that time and later. The music created by the band had several elements of rockabilly, ska, rap, funk, dub and reggae. ‘The Clash’ turned out to be one of the most talked about emerging bands from the punk rock scene in United Kingdom. Their second album titled ‘Give ‘Em Enough Rope’ (year 1978) quickly climbed up to the 2nd spot in the UK charts. Soon, they started achieving great success in the United States too, starting with the release of ‘London Calling’ in the year 1979 and then topping it up with the 1982 release of ‘Combat Rock’. The latter climbed up to the 7th position on the US charts and continued its amazing run to be eventually certified as 2 x platinum there.



The thought-provoking lyrics, rebellious attitude and musical experimentation of ‘The Clash’ struck a nice chord with audiences all over the world, especially in the UK and US, and had a major influence on the rock music of the time, especially the alternative rock genre.

The musical journey of Joe Strummer didn’t stay limited to ‘The Clash’ or his solo career alone, it went far ahead and involved memberships of the Pogues, Latino Rockability War, the 101ers and the Mescaleros too. He successfully explored his interests in various fields including acting, radio broadcasting, creation of film scores for movies and television, a radio host and songwriting. In a nutshell, Strummer is one of the few artists who can be truly counted amongst the icons of the British punk music movement.

The passing away and legacy of Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer passed away all of a sudden on December 20, 2002 at his home in Bloomfield Somerset. Eventually it was discovered that he was suffering from a congenital heart effect that went undiagnosed. As was mentioned earlier, Strummer was involved in various other initiatives apart from his involvement in the music industry. He played an instrumental role in setting up of Future Forests (the Carbon Neutral Company of today) dedicated to the planting of trees in different parts of the world for combating the problem of global warming. In fact, Strummer was the first-ever artist to record, press and distribute his records in a carbon neutral way via planting of trees.

Joe Strummer’s family and friends even created the Strummerville Foundation for encouraging the creation of new genres of music. The Foundation holds an annual music festival of the same name. In addition, several festivals are organized and spontaneous ceremonies are carried out world over every year, for celebrating Joe Strummer’s life and music.

Along with his band ‘The Clash’, Joe Strummer was inducted in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in February 2003 at the Grammy Awards. Tony Kanal, Pete Thomas, Steven Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Dave Grohl went on stage and performed ‘London Calling’ as a tribute to Strummer.

Stockholm’s famous rock club Debaster also held a tribute event in the memory of Joe Strummer the same month involving some of the most popular rock musicians of Sweden, who played ‘The Clash’s songs. The legendary punk rock band from Sweden Ebba Gron reunited for playing a tribute to Joe Strummer towards the end of that concert, and were helped by Mick Jones on guitars.

Joe was working on his next album with Mescaleros at the time of his untimely death. That album was later released posthumously in the month of October in 2003. It was titled Streetcore. The album featured tribute songs for Johnny Cash, the American music legend and Bob Marley (his ‘Redemption Song’).

Later that year in December 2003, almost a year after Joe Strummer’s death, a tribute show was held in the New York City at Irving Plaza. The bands in the lineup were The Realistics, Radio 4, Dirty Mary, New Blood Revival, Secret Army, The Saturn Missile + Vic Thrill, Eugene Hutz, Ted Leo, Jesse Malin, Ari Up, the Detachment Kit, Hammel on Trial, The Realistics and Clem Snide.

Stiff Little Fingers, the popular punk rock band from Belfast also included a tribute song for Joe Strummer titled Strummerville in their album titled ‘Guitar and Drum’. Various other reputed artists and bands recorded and released tribute songs for Joe Strummer as their gesture for honoring the great artist.

Fender, the guitar manufacturer collaborated with the Strummer Estate and released a Joe Strummer tribute telecaster, which combined different elements from Joe’s main guitars, in an attempt to replicate the ‘road worn’ finish of Strummer’s telecaster from the year 1966, which he continued to use until the time of his passing away. The first 1500 prototypes came with a customization kit designed by Shepard Fairey, adorned with stencils and stickers, resembling very much to the designs that Joe Strummer used to have on his guitars!

On August 21, 2012, what would have been the 60th birthday of Joe Strummer, Hellcat Records delighted the Joe Strummer fans by releasing an exclusive digital download album comprising of 57 Joe Strummer songs, and titled ‘Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, The Hellcat Years’. It comprised of the three albums that Joe Strummer had recorded with Hellcat, as well as many live songs and B-sides, including the Joe Strummer’s November 2002 concert in which he played along with Mick Jones.

June 2013 saw a mural of Joe Strummer unveiled at the corner of Blenheim Crescent and Portobello Road. The event was attended by a large number of Joe Strummer’s friends, including the likes of Ray Gange and Mick Jones.

The documentary film ‘Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten’ served as the perfect tribute to the life of the legendary artist.