The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 967: 20 short stories about Joe Strummer

When Joe Strummer died on December 22, 2002, no one could believe it. First of all, the guy was only 50. Second, here was someone who ran marathons. Third, he’d been a strict vegetarian since 1971. And fourth, it was Joe Strummer, one of the toughest and most uncompromising musicians in the history of not just punk and alternative but rock period.

And yet it happened. He’d just returned to his kitchen in Somerset, England, after walking the dog. And he just…died. Cause of death? A heart attack caused by an undiagnosed defect in his heart that had been there since birth. He immediately lost consciousness and never woke up.

It turns out that he had something called an “intra-mural coronary artery.” This is one of the main vessels supplying blood to the heart ends up growing inside the heart muscle and eventually causes cardiac arrest. It’s a very, very rare condition with few than 100 fatal cases worldwide in the last 50 years.

That’s what killed Joe? I mean, what are the odds?

Joe has been gone for 20 years yet is still remembered and revered as an iconic figure, someone whose work has been discovered and rediscovered by several generations of music fans. To commemorate the day he left us, I’ve come up with something I call “20 Short Stories” about Joe Strummer.”

Songs heard on this show:

  • Clash, London Calling
  • The 101ers, Keys to Your Heart
  • Clash, White Riot
  • Clash, I Fought the Lw
  • Clash, Safe European Home
  • Clash, Clash City Rockers
  • The Pogues ft. Joe Strummer, The Turkish Song of the Dead
  • Joe Strummer, Love Kills
  • Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, Yalla Yalla

    Here’s Eric Wilhite’s playlist. The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

    We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter and I’ll see what I can do.

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