Plaque unveiled to Clash frontman and west London boy Joe Strummer
'He would be flattered, but probably play it down and have some funny quip about it'
12 December, 2016 — By Alina Polianskaya
Gaby Salter, Murad Qureshi, Crispin Chetwynd and Robert Gordon McHarg with the plaque to musician and wordsmith Strummer, below (PHOTO: JKATAJAM FROM FI)
FRIENDS and family of Joe Strummer unveiled a plaque outside one of his former squats, fixing an unlikely corner of north Westminster as an “integral part of the birth of punk rock”.
The Clash frontman was described as “warm”, “witty” and a “creative” artist at the event outside the building in Daventry Street, Lisson Grove.
The building – where he lived during the height of his fame – is currently run by the Seymour Housing Co-operative, ensuring genuinely affordable rents for people on low or uncertain incomes. Strummer’s former wife, Lucinda, said: “I just think Joe would be overwhelmed to have this recognised, and just so happy that the spirit of squatting is still alive. What was his squat is now a co-operative which has enabled people to live in this area, to be supported and to contribute to a community, which otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to do, as house prices are just ridiculous.”
She added: “He would be so happy that it is a co-op. I think it is so important as prices go so high that everyone creative moves out and you just lose the heart and soul of the city. “
The co-op funded the plaque, at the centre of an area that has a little-known but important musical history.
Friend and fellow musician Gaz Mayall said: “He would be flattered, but probably play it down and have some funny quip about it… but he would be appreciative of it. He was a brilliant person… so down to earth, amusing, witty, creative.”
Mr Mayall, who runs a nightclub, added: “It is nice that they have acknowledged the place that he squatted at the height of The Clash’s fame. They were selling out stadiums all around the world and yet he was still living in a squat here. He always was a west London boy and it all happened around here. This is an integral part of the birth of punk rock, this whole tiny area around here. Half of the Sex Pistols lived in Bell Street, Joe lived here, Malcolm McLaren had his offices just around the corner. It wasn’t just about King’s Road, it was a lot about west London really.”
Others in attendance included his former partner Gaby who was with Joe when they lived in Daventry Street, the new night czar Amy Lamé, and former Assembly Member Murad Qureshi, who also lives in the co-op.
Mr Qureshi said: “We know The Slits were formed along Daventry Street, when Malcolm McLaren was managing the Sex Pistols he was doing it from Bell Street. There are people here who know all this but it has not been put in the folklore of London and I think it is important to do it.”
Strummer’s biographer Chris Saleweicz said: “I thought this was a really moving event. It reminds me of the spirit you would always have around Joe, at his house. There would always be a similar group of people, and a fabulous energy… low key, but slightly profound, and that’s what this was.”