Happy Birthday Joe Strummer: Performing Live With The Clash In 1979

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Today marks what would have been Joe Strummer’s 68th birthday. The legendary punk pioneer died suddenly on December 22, 2002 at 50 due to an undiagnosed congenital heart condition. Strummer was born John Graham Mellor on August 21, 1952 in Ankara, Turkey as his father was a member of the British Foreign Service. Strummer headed to England to attend boarding school in the 1960s and in 1976 co-founded the groundbreaking punk band, The Clash.

On the vanguard of the initial British punk rock wave, The Clash achieved success in the UK with their 1977 self-titled debut album. But rumblings of The Clash and other British punk bands began to echo across the pond and in early 1979 the group conducted their first tour of the U.S., in true Clash fashion irreverently dubbed the “Pearl Harbour ‘79 Tour.” With seeds planted in the U.S., the band would return to the States after their eponymous debut was released in America in the late summer of ‘79. Both The Clash’s U.S. tours saw rock and R&B legends like Bo Diddley and Sam & Dave opening up for the band which deepened their interest in the roots of mid-20th Century American music.

In September ‘79, The Clash — rhythm guitarist/vocalist Joe Strummer, lead guitarist/vocalist Mick Jones, bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Nicky “Topper” Headon — would play perhaps their most iconic concerts in the U.S. at The Palladium in New York City. It was during these shows that the “ultimate rock photo” was taken of Paul Simonon smashing his bass. The shot would go on to become the cover of The Clash’s groundbreaking 1979 double album, London Calling, which would come out at the end of the year.

But the scope and breadth of London Calling — which contained elements of not only the band’s newfound American rock and R&B influences but also ska, reggae and blueprints for what would become new wave and grunge — is on full display at the Palladium in September ‘79 (the band were actually in the process of recording the album at the time). The Clash performed the LP’s title track as well as London Calling cuts “Koka Kola,” “The Guns Of Brixton,” “Clampdown,” and “Wrong ‘Em Boyo.” The group also played their cover of “I Fought The Law” by mid-’60s American rock band the Bobby Fuller Four, which the Clash had released on an EP in the UK over the summer. The band also delivered songs from The Clash and their second album, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, with “Safe European Home,” “I’m So Bored With The USA,” “Janie Jones” and the show’s closer, “White Riot.”

To celebrate Joe Strummer’s birthday, listen to The Clash’s entire September 21 concert from New York’s Palladium in 1979 below via GotGameGreggy for this edition of Full Show Friday:

A livestream tribute to Strummer is set to take place this afternoon. Head here for more info.

Setlist & Timings

  • Safe European Home 00:10
  • I’m So Bored With The USA 03:18
  • Complete Control 06:01
  • London Calling 10:07
  • White Man In Ham Palais 13:46
  • Koka Kola 18:00
  • I Fought The Law 19:31
  • Jail Guitar Doors 22:01
  • The Guns Of Brixton 25:29
  • English Civil War 29:49
  • Clash City Rockers 33:06
  • Stay Free 37:30
  • Clampdown 41:55
  • Police And Thieves 46:28
  • Capital Radio 51:50
  • Tommy Gun 55:53
  • Wrong ‘Em Boyo 58:53
  • Janie Jones 1:02:01
  • Garageland 1:04:03
  • Armagideon Time 1:07:32
  • Career Opportunities 1:12:03
  • What’s My Name 1:13:53
  • White Riot 1:15:28
JamBase Live Video Archive
JamBase Live Video Archive