Marking ten years since the passing of the much loved and inspirational Joe Strummer, ‘Rudeboy’ star and original Clash-Crew confidante Ray Gange dropped by Louder Than War to talk about his friend…

 

 

 

 

Hi Ray, Its approaching the 22nd of Dec 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 Hell then from his solo stuff I’d say Trash City, Island Hopping, All in a Day, Arms Aloft & of course the minute i send this to you I’m gonna think of a bunch of others but that’s today’s choice anyway.

Where did you actually meet Joe and The Clash for the first time Ray?

In a pub venue in Putney of all places, either The Lurkers or Wayne Country and The Electric Chairs were playing, I cant recall for sure.

How do you personally remember Joe on his anniversary; with friends, frequent your old stomping grounds, listen to his music…?

I guess all the above depending on the circumstances, its seems I’m doing a DJ spot at one celebration or another so usually 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 a friend.

 

Probably one of the best known Strummer celebrations is Strummerville, set up in Joe’s name to support new music and remember 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 the events 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 just re-hashing Joe’s old music, there’s more than enough lovely people doing that off their own back so an organisation to give some youngsters a helping hand is great.

Joe was big on giving support to others wasn’t 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 the 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? It’s all good, i’m not a purist about such things so what the hell.

When on your travels do you regularly come across many types of people who he’s influenced?

Well I didn’t come across it in Sri Lanka or Ibiza but Europe and North America for sure and it seems there’s a sizable Strummer interest down under too.

How about The Clash feature length classic ‘Rudeboy’, especially today as its really grown very popular 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 well received are becoming more relevant 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 though haven’t 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 the London 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 to 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 i wouldn’t swap for anything. 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 most relevant 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 but I’ve 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’s anniversary, where will you be, DJ’ing somewhere maybe? And what dates are you playing over 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 with Joe & The Mescaleros. then i’m doing something 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 sometime I’ve got some dates in France, Lyon I think. So all’s looking good.

Finally Ray, have you a favourite Joe 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-like 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.

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