When Joe Strummer Decided To Avoid Violence

Punk rock is known for being a significant cultural phenomenon that led to a punk subculture that expresses youthful rebellion. The genre had an immense effect on youth through political, anti-establishment lyrics, and distinctive clothing styles such as offensive t-shirts, studded jewelry, and leather jackets. Therefore, punk music has often been regarded as the equal of rebelliousness and revolt.

Joe Strummer‘s first introduction to punk rock happened when he saw Sex Pistols on the stage at a venue on April 3, 1976. After the show, Bernie Rhodes and Mick Jones approached him and wanted Strummer to join London SS as the lead singer. That band later evolved into the Clash and became one of the key figures in the British punk rock scene. During his tenure in Clash, Strummer had a severe incident, which taught him a lesson that stuck with him for the rest of his life.

How Was Joe Strummer Affected By A Fan Incident?

Along with his bandmates, Joe Strummer became known for getting into trouble with the law several times throughout his career in the Clash. Back on June 10, 1977, he and drummer Topper Headon got arrested after spray-painting the band’s name on a wall in a hotel. However, an emotionally heavier incident happened that deeply impacted Strummer on May 20, 1980.

During one of the Clash’s performances in Hamburg, Germany, the musician hit a violent fan in the audience with his guitar. Following the tragic incident, the rocker got arrested, but this was a shock on Strummer which had a long-lasting impact on him. According to a 2006 biography of Strummer titled ‘Redemption Song: The Ballad Of Joe Strummer’ written by Chris Salewicz, the musician said that this was a turning point for him as it was the first time violence had really controlled his actions. After that, Strummer decided to never fight violence with violence.

According to the 2006 biography ‘Redemption Song: The Ballad Of Joe Strummer,’ Joe Strummer said about the incident the following:

It was a watershed. Violence had really controlled me for once.”

Though Joe Strummer lost his temper at that time and hit the fan in a very violent manner, it appears that he learned his lesson about anger management. When he got arrested and had some time to think about the incident, it seems the musician learned from his mistake and decided not to let violence control him.