If there’s one line that sticks out on the opening page of Keith Levene’s new book, Meeting Joe: Joe Strummer, The Clash and Me, it might well be this: “His name was Joe. Joe Strummer of the then-popular pub band on the scene – the 101ers.” Popular pub band? Scene? These are terms that now sound like oxymora, or clichéd slang from a bygone era – but when it comes to figures like Levene (or, indeed, Strummer), it’s worth remembering that music in the day of The Clash wasn’t available for the iPod Generation’s obsession with instant, downloadable, gratification. This is the story of how Levene recruited Strummer for The Clash – and like all good stories, it starts in a drinking hole.
Levene is someone who has a habit of getting things done. At 17 he set out to get the talented Strummer to join his (now legendary) band, and succeeded. By 1980 they were being billed as ‘the only band that matters’, and, after 35 years of regretting not doing it the first time round, he recently raised $24,000 to re-record Public Image Ltd’s Commercial Zone, in his words, “properly”. It’s perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that this same fervour of energy has now created a fascinating little book that offers a refreshing and personal take on a meeting of minds which subsequently produced some of the most important popular music of the late twentieth-century. Bold, witty and honest, this is an important account from one of the rascals of the music industry, and it deserves to be read.
Meeting Joe: Joe Strummer, The Clash and Me is now available to buy in hardback from http://www.teenageguitarist76.com/ and e-book from www.amazon.com.