A new biography, Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz about the lead singer and lyricist for my all time favorite rock band, the Clash, has lots of fun fact on the leftwing icon. Joe stopped brushing his teeth at around age 16, causing them to eventually fall out, which helped him sound more proletarian, more like Andy Capp’s dad, and less like the public school boy he actually was.
The Clash song “Bankrobber” explained:
My daddy was a bankrobber
But he never hurt nobody
He just loved to live that way
And he loved to steal your money
Actually, Joe’s father Ronald Mellor had been born in India and was a major in Britain‘s Indian Army during WWII. During the Cold War, he served in the Foreign Office. The future Joe Strummer (born John Mellor) grew up in Turkey, Mexico, and Malawi before being sent to boarding school in the Home Counties. Exactly what his diplomat father did at the embassies is a little vague, presumably because it was hush-hush, having to do with coded communications. Joe and his father had similar far left politics and and had similar personalities in some ways — great talkers, angry and funny. The two weren’t all that close, but Joe respected his father and Ronald was very proud of his son’s success in the Clash.
One memorable detail of this endlessly detailed biography is that when Strummer’s dad was stationed at the British embassy in Cairo, he lunched frequently with Graham Greene’s old friend, master spy and arch-traitor Kim Philby.
(Republished from iSteve
by permission of author or representative)