Marking ten years since the passing of the much loved and inspirational Joe Strummer, ‘Rudeboy’ star and original Clash-Crew confidanteÂ Ray Gange dropped by Louder Than War to talk aboutÂ his friend…
Hi Ray, Its approaching the 22nd ofÂ DecÂ and the 10th yr since Joe Strummer passed away, he would of been 60yrs old, do you think if Joe was with us he’d be rocking still?
Yes, I think the old left leg would be going up and down a fair bit, not as much as it used to of course but as a DJ you’re never going to be that far from Joe’s music I suppose.
So what are your Joe Strummer faves, especially including his solo work?
Letsagetabitarocking & 5 star rocknroll petrol from the 101’ers are the ones that do it for me really, probably because I’m an old codger, then I’d jump to Sandinista and pick The Equaliser & Junco Partner along with Straight to HellÂ then from his solo stuff I’d say Trash City, Island Hopping, All in a Day, Arms Aloft &Â of course the minute i send this to you I’m gonna think of a bunch of others butÂ that’sÂ today’sÂ choice anyway.
Where did you actually meet Joe and The Clash for the first time Ray?
In a pub venue inÂ PutneyÂ of all places, either The Lurkers or Wayne Country and The Electric Chairs were playing, I cant recall for sure.
How do youÂ personallyÂ rememberÂ Joe on hisÂ anniversary; with friends, frequentÂ your old stomping grounds, listen to his musicâ¦?
I guess all the above depending on the circumstances, its seems I’m doing a DJ spot at one celebration or another soÂ usuallyÂ with lots of kindred spirits. If I’m at home I’ll just play some of his more mellow tunes and reflect on the highs and lows of knowing him and being able to call him aÂ friend.
Probably one of the best known Strummer celebrations is Strummerville, set up in Joe’s name to support new music andÂ rememberÂ the mans own legacy, you ever attend the events Ray
I’m not really connected to the good folks at Strummerville although quite a lot of theÂ eventsÂ I DJ at send the proceeds to that cause which can only be a good thing. Its good that’s its about new bands rather than justÂ re-hashingÂ Joe’s old music, there’s more than enough lovelyÂ peopleÂ doing that offÂ theirÂ own back so an organisation to give someÂ youngstersÂ a helping hand is great.
Joe was big on giving support to othersÂ wasn’tÂ he?
Yeah precisely, you’ve got to do what you can for the new breed otherwise it all just fades to nothing.
What did you think about ‘London Calling’ being used during theÂ Olympics, did it work well or was it maybe a little out of place?
It was kind of obvious that it would be used by someone during the Olympics, i just wondered if the execs that gave the thumbs up ever bothered listening to the lyrics and then if so would they have cared anyway?Â It’s all good, i’m not a purist about such things so what the hell.
When on your travels do youÂ regularlyÂ come across many types of people who he’s influenced?
Well IÂ didn’tÂ come across it in Sri Lanka or Ibiza but Europe and North America for sure and it seems there’s a sizable Strummer interestÂ down under too.
HowÂ about The Clash feature length classic ‘Rudeboy’, especiallyÂ today as its really grown veryÂ popularÂ over the years hasn’t it? Why do you think that is?
Take a look around, you can feel it in the air, watch TV and you can see it in the news. It seems the aspects of Rudeboy that weren’t too wellÂ receivedÂ are becoming moreÂ relevantÂ by the day, as do the bands lyrics. I was going to give you a couple of songs as examples but I realised I’d be listing almost all of them.
Watching it I cant help think what an amazing time it must of been, you’ve moved about in a few scenes thoughÂ haven’tÂ you…the punk scene, the skinhead scene and everything going on in the 80’s. Looking back what are the best memories you have?
I feel blessed that i was around to experience theÂ LondonÂ from Glam, pub rock, feelgoods etc, then the disco / funk scene of clubs like Global Village etc, then the early world of punk up to the end of 78 when i moved to LA for 4 years just in time toÂ experience the best years of that punk rock world, so i guess 72 to 82 was a decade of rock and roller coaster rides that iÂ wouldn’tÂ swap forÂ anything.Â I also feel blessed that for various reasons i missed much of 84-90 as folks tell me i didn’t miss much.
At a guess what new sounds or groups do you think Joe might of been digging today.
Sadly I really don’t think there is an answer to that, mores the pity. The mostÂ relevantÂ band I could think of is Asian Dub Foundation but they’re hardly new.
and yourself…What new groups, records or artists have caught your attention lately
There are not many bands, really, that I go ‘wow’ about butÂ I’veÂ caught some good retro bands like Ten-O-Sevens and Johnny Throttle, and newer bands like The Kills, Deap Vally. The band I’d go most out of my way to see at the moment is the Rat Scabies / Brian James / Texas Terri band that are performing the 1st two Damned albums the way they should be played.
What about this year’s 22nd of Dec – Joe’sÂ anniversary, where will you be, DJ’ing somewhere maybe? And what dates are you playing overÂ Christmas?
Before that i’ll be in Woolwich on Nov 29th at The Earl of Chatham for a ‘charity’ Strummer night which will also have Johnnie Green & Pat Gilbert reading from their books re The Clash and also Ant Davie reading from his chronicles of life withÂ JoeÂ & The Mescaleros. then i’m doingÂ somethingÂ in Prague on Dec 20th along with Vince White from Clash Mk 2, for the folks in Prague Don Letts will be at the same event the next night but I’ll be flying back to do the 100 club shows. In January sometimeÂ I’veÂ got some dates in France, Lyon I think. So all’s looking good.
Finally Ray, have you a favourite JoeÂ story, you must have a good few…
My current favourite was one that was told to me at a gig I was doing in Italy last year. I got introduced to a guy who looked very much how I did in Rudeboy, he told me that he had met Joe at a Mescoleros show and asked for his autograph and Joe wrote on the piece of paper ‘To the winner of the Ray Gange look-a-likeÂ competition’ this was very poignant to me as I hadn’t spoken to Joe for a while when he died so it was nice to know I was still in his memory.
All words by Carl Stanley. More articles by Carl on Louder Than War can be read here.