The 30 Most Badass Guitarists of All Time
Born August 21, 1952 (died December 22, 2002)
Band The Clash, Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Iconic Guitar 1968 Fender Telecaster
Coolest Riff "Train in Vain" — London Calling
Joe Strummer was far from the most proficient rhythm guitarist in punk rock, and his tone was often downright wimpy.
Yet you’d never find a punk rocker who didn’t want to be just like him. Whereas most punk guitarists found inspiration from the same hard rock and proto-metal players that they pretended to despise, Strummer was influenced by reggae, rockabilly, soul, ska and even early New York rap music when most of the world still hadn’t heard of the Sugarhill Gang.
Those influences helped him develop a truly unique rhythm guitar style that no one has been able to duplicate since. Perhaps the coolest thing about Joe Strummer is no one could ever predict what he would do next. In 1981, the Clash played 17 consecutive nights at the 3,500-capacity Bond’s International Casino nightclub in Manhattan, but when they returned to New York the next year they played two sold-out shows at Shea Stadium as an opening act for the Who.
Julien Temple’s documentary, Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, reveals what many would perceive as Strummer’s flaws: from his hippie squatter roots to the way he dissed former bandmates during the Clash’s last gasps. But ultimately, Strummer was a man who simply did wanted he wanted to do without giving a shit what anybody else thought.