Strummer was born in Ankara, Turkey because his father was a British diplomat. His original name was John Mellor.
The name "Strummer" was bestowed upon Strummer because he was known to strum "Johnny B. Goode" on a ukulele in London subway stations.
In 1974, Strummer formed the 101ers, who were named for the address of the West London house Joe Strummer and then-bandmates squatted in pre-Clash (101 Walterton Road).
Jones' band, the London SS, at various times included Simonon, Crimes, Headon and future Generation X bassist Tony James. In 1976, Jones and Simonon were looking to start a new band, and they came across Strummer at the welfare office. Strummer thought they were going to rob him, but they actually wanted him to join their band.
Simonon suggested the band's name after repeatedly reading the word "Clash" in newspapers. (thanks, andy - Brooklyn, NY)
At the first Clash gig, they performed as a quintet (with Levene). They opened for the legendary punk band, the Sex Pistols. Levene eventually joined Public Image Ltd. with Sex Pistols vocalist Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon).
The Clash's debut album was not originally released in America. However, it sold 100,000 import copies, making it the largest selling import album of its time.
Headon drummed with Pat Travers in Europe before joining the Clash.
The band insisted that 1979's London Calling, and all their subsequent albums, sell at lower-than-standard prices. The record company's profit loss was taken out of the band members' royalties.
Ian Dury's keyboardist Mickey Gallagher appears on London Calling.
Their 1980 album Sandinista! was their first to sell more in the United States then in Britain.
Jones went on to form Big Audio Dynamite. Simonon formed Havana 3 A.M. and Strummer enjoyed a solo career. Strummer appears on Big Audio Dynamite's second album.
Their early shows could get a little rough. It was the era of Punk, and fans would often throw things at the stage. Instead of clapping, they showed their appreciation by "gobbing," which was spitting at the band.
Strummer recorded music for various movies including Sid & Nancy, Straight to Hell, and Permanent Record.
The Clash appear in the movie The King Of Comedy as a group of hoodlums. There was also a movie made about a fictional Clash roadie called Rude Boy, which is based on Ray Gange, an ex-porn shop employee who briefly roadied for the Clash. (thanks, andy - Brooklyn, NY)
Strummer ran three marathons in the early '80s, including the London Marathon twice.
In 1977, Strummer and Headon were once charged with robbery - stealing a pillow from a Holiday Inn.
Strummer died from a heart attack on December 22, 2002. He was 50.
They were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2003. There were rumors that Bruce Springsteen would join them to perform at the ceremony, but the remaining members decided not to play. The ceremonies took place at the fancy Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York and tickets were $1500 each. They felt playing such an event would go against what The Clash stood for, but they did accept their awards.
U2 guitarist The Edge told Rolling Stone magazine April 15, 2004: "The Clash, more than any other group, kick-started a thousand garage bands across Ireland and the UK. For U2 and other people of our generation, seeing them perform was a life-changing experience." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
In 1977, The Clash signed to CBS Records for the then-outrageous sum of 100,000 pounds. An anecdote often repeated is Mark Parry's lament "Punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS." Actually, according to Jon Savage's England's Dreaming, The Clash, like many punk bands of the time, were shockingly naïve about business matters. Joe Strummer recollects there: "We were completely in the dark. We let [manager] Bernie handle everything. We were really the people we were supposed to be. What did we know about record companies and contracts?"