• Joe Strummer in 1999 / Photo by Isabel Snyder/Corbis

    Joe Strummer's Complex Legacy: 10 Years After the Clash Leader's Death

    On December 22 it will be 10 years since the unexpected death of Joe Strummer, singer, lyricist, rhythm guitarist, and centerpiece of the Clash. Strummer was 50 when he passed away from a congenital heart defect, old by the standards of rock mythology but terribly young for someone to die of natural causes.Lifelong partisans know the Clash's history and music inside and out. Most rock fans must be acquainted with at least a handful of the band's works: "Should I Stay or Should I Go," "I'm So Bored with the USA," "Clampdown," "Train in Vain," "Rock the Casbah," "Rudie Can't Fail." And there is, of course, "London Calling," perhaps my favorite song of all time, which was played, referenced, and used as a headline during last summer's London Olympics ad nauseum.The journey from upstarts to ubiquity was long and strange. Punk circa 1976 didn't demand much more than will from a musician.

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