Joe Strummer Mural

Art & Culture

Street Art - Homage to an Icon

Joe Strummer Mural East Village Street Art

About Joe Strummer Mural

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • An Homage to the Front Man of an Iconic Band in a Neighborhood Rich with Rock & Punk History.
  • Joe Strummer was the iconic front man of 70’s and 80’s rock/punk band The Clash.
  • His distinctive voice can be heard on hits like Rock the Casbah, Straight to Hell & London Calling.
  • He died in 2002 at the age of 50 from a undiagnosed heart defect.
  • The mural was painted in 2003 by grafitti and street artist Dr Revolt to commemorate Strummer who used to patronize the adjacent bar Niagra.
  • Know Your Rights was the first single released on The Clash’s album Combat Rock. The lyrics, like many of their songs were political. The song was a statement against the tyranny of government against the poor and disenfranchise
Joe Strummer
Joe Strummer

Carpe City Trivia

This is not the original mural

This is actually the 2nd iteration of the mural.  The first one (also painted by Dr. Revolt) had to be torn down as the old building wall was crumbling.  The second version was painted in 2013 and is distinctively different in that it less grungy and edgy looking.  Ironic as it is somewhat indicative of the way the neighborhood has changed.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This was the Clash’s best charting single.  Released in 1982 on the Combat Rock album the lead vocals were actually done by Mick Jones and not Joe Strummer.  Joe was set to do backup vocals with Joe Ely.  At the last minute Strummer decided he wanted to sing backup vocals in Spanish but did not know Spanish. They had to get their studio tape operator Eddie Garcia to call his mum in Brooklyn Heights to get her to translate the lyrics.  She was Ecuadorian so Strummer said he and Ely sang backup in some sort of “Ecuadorian Spanish.”

Rock the Casbah by The Clash

Why does the mural feature the words "The Future is Unwritten"?

In 2007 a documentary of Strummer was released to much acclaim called “The Future is Unwritten.”  Strummer ever the man committed to social justice quoted the following:
“And so now I’d like to say – people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks – I am one of them. But we’ve all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything – this is something that I’m beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That’s because they’ve been dehumanised. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing. That’s my spiel.”

By: Christi Scofield

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