56 of the Most Memorable Joe Strummer Quotes

John Graham Mellor, publicly known as Joe Strummer, was born in 1952 in Turkey, where his father was stationed. His schooling involved London boarding schools, and as a teenager he began to use the stage name Joe Strummer. In 1974, he formed a band called the 101er’s, but the band wasn’t going where Joe wanted to go so he quit.

In 1976, Joe co-found the band The Clash, the band released six albums and a ton of singles including one of their most popular songs, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ (1982). The Clash split up, leaving Strummer to work with some of the ex band members to release songs but in 1989 he released his first solo album ‘Earthquake Weather’.

Joe fell out of the musical world for a while until the 1990s. In 1999 he released his second solo album, ‘Rock Art and the X-Ray Style’ and then in 2001 he released his third album, ‘Global A-Go-Go’. Sadly in the middle of recording his fourth solo album, Joe Strummer died of a heart attack in his home in 2002.

Joe Strummer Quotes

  1. “I’m kind of like one of those people that picks up small and interesting bits of wood and doesn’t want to let go of them. Or, you know, I’m fascinated with the wrapper on a sardine can. A little cuckoo.” – Joe Strummer
  2. “I don’t have any other message than don’t forget you are alive.” – Joe Strummer
  3. “Punk rock isn’t something you grow out of Punk rock is an attitude, and the essence of that attitude is ‘give us some truth'” – Joe Strummer
  4. “I want to grow up with my audience. I don’t expect to be getting through to the younger pop crowd. I learned that from Paul Simon.” – Joe Strummer
  5. “Politically at that time, with Thatcher in Britain and Reagan in the White House, it wasn’t looking too great for the Left. And we were always on the left.” – Joe Strummer
  6. “There is nothing more common than unsuccessful men with talent.” – Joe Strummer
  7. “Everyone has got to realise you can’t hold onto the past if you want any future. Each second should lead to the next one.” – Joe Strummer
  8. “You’re in a bad mood, you can think, hey, wait a minute, we’re alive! We don’t know what the next second will bring and what a fantastic thing this is. This can get easily forgotten in the routine of life, and that’s something I’m trying to bring to my attention at all times. Don’t forget you’re alive. We’re not dead, you know. This is the greatest thing.” – Joe Strummer
  9. “You ain’t alive and kicking unless you’re fighting.” – Joe Strummer
  10. “If you ain’t thinkin’ about man and God and law, then you ain’t thinkin’ about nothin’. “ – Joe Strummer
  11. “I like to read because it’s the opposite of being on the go. Reading is the perfect antidote.” – Joe Strummer
  12. “If I had five million pounds I’d start a radio station because something needs to be done. It would be nice to turn on the radio and hear something that didn’t make you feel like smashing up the kitchen and strangling the cat.” – Joe Strummer
  13. “In fact, punk rock means exemplary manners to your fellow human beings.” – Joe Strummer
  14. “We sing in English, not mimicking some American rock singer’s accent. That’s just pretending to be something you ain’t.” – Joe Strummer
  15. “With The Simpsons you can go back to work with a keen heart.” – Joe Strummer
  16. “People can change anything they want to, and that means everything in the world.” – Joe Strummer
  17. “When I started, they told me I only needed 3 chords and the truth… It turned out I could manage with 2 and some vague ideas.” – Joe Strummer
  18. “The only place I considered home was the boarding school, in Yorkshire, my parents sent me to.” – Joe Strummer
  19. “There is a time to dance to techno and a time not to.” – Joe Strummer
  20. “I’m far more dangerous now, because I don’t care at all.” – Joe Strummer
  21. “I’d like to say that people… people can change anything they want to; and that means everything in the world. Show me any country and there’ll be people in it. And it’s the people that make the country. People have got to stop pretending they’re not on the world…” – Joe Strummer
  22. “I get on all right with my parents. But I don’t see them very much. They split up when I was eight. I stayed with my mum, but I felt it was a bit soft with her. I could do whatever I liked, and I wasn’t getting nowhere, so I went to stay with my dad.” – Joe Strummer
  23. “Nonsmokers should be banned from buying any product a smoker created.” – Joe Strummer
  24. “Strummer’s Law: No input, no output.” – Joe Strummer
  25. “It’s time to take that humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time… Think on that. Without people you’re nothing.” – Joe Strummer
  26. “We didn’t have any solution to the world’s problems. I mean, we were trying to grow up in a socialist way to some future where the world might be less of a miserable place than it is.” – Joe Strummer
  27. “I don’t want to look back. I want to keep going forward, I still have something to say to people.” – Joe Strummer
  28. “The way you get a better world is, you don’t put up with substandard anything.” – Joe Strummer
  29. “We`re all going to have to learn to live together and develop a greater tolerance and get rid of whatever our fathers gave us in the way of hatred between nations.” – Joe Strummer
  30. “You can only follow what’s on your mind. In fact, a song is something you write because you can’t sleep unless you write it.” – Joe Strummer
  31. “I like to just feel how I feel and not worry about it really.” – Joe Strummer
  32. “It is fun to be alive. It’s a hell of a lot better than being dead.” – Joe Strummer
  33. “The toughest thing is facing yourself. Being honest with yourself, that’s much tougher than beating someone up. That’s what I call tough.” – Joe Strummer
  34. “I have a weird life because I live on songwriting royalties, which are a strange income. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn’t.” – Joe Strummer
  35. “If they can’t hear it, they’re not supposed to hear it. It’s not for them if they can’t understand it.” – Joe Strummer
  36. “Authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control and it didn’t have any inherent wisdom. I quickly realised that you either became a power or you were crushed” – Joe Strummer
  37. “When you blame yourself, you learn from it. If you blame someone else, you don’t learn nothing, cause hey, it’s not your fault, it’s his fault, over there.” – Joe Strummer
  38. “I think we’re going to have to forget about the radio and just go back to word of mouth.” – Joe Strummer
  39. “Anybody who makes speeches written by someone else is just a robot.” – Joe Strummer
  40. “Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing” – Joe Strummer
  41. “A lot of the time I’m semi-insane, but there is a slight bit of intelligence there.” – Joe Strummer
  42. “I found that I was just hopeless at school. It was just a total bore. First, I passed in art and English, and then just art. Then I passed out.” – Joe Strummer
  43. “For me the music is a vehicle for my lyrics. It’s a chance to get some really good words across.” – Joe Strummer
  44. “When you’re out to get the honey you don’t go killing all the bees” – Joe Strummer
  45. “I’m far more dangerous now, because I don’t care at all.” – Joe Strummer
  46. “It is fun to be alive. It’s a h*ll of a lot better than being dead.” – Joe Strummer
  47. “Yeah, all those things, responsibility, pressure. It’s a bit stressful. I try and come to terms with it by not thinking about it.” – Joe Strummer
  48. “All hippies around now just represent complete apathy.” – Joe Strummer
  49. “My motto is, ‘What’s the hurry?’ I’m trying to get it across to the modern world that we need to sit around and think a little bit more.” – Joe Strummer
  50. “You have the right not to be killed, unless it was done by a policeman or an aristocrat.” = Joe Strummer
  51. “We aren’t particularly talented. We try harder!” – Joe Strummer
  52. “If they can’t hear it, they’re not supposed to hear it. It’s not for them if they can’t understand it.” – Joe Strummer
  53. “All the power’s in the hands of people rich enough to buy it.” – Joe Strummer
  54. “The future is unwritten.” – Joe Strummer
  55. “There isn’t a town in the world I haven’t run amok in.” – Joe Strummer
  56. “The hippy movement was a failure.” – Joe Strummer
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Joe Strummer Video

This is the most popular video from The Clash…ever!

You can see Joe and the rest of the band at their peak. And it’s a great flashback to what videos looked like in 1982.

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Even if you aren’t into his music, you for sure have had to hear the name Joe Strummer before in your life. Joe Strummer was a great musician, and he had a wide fan base, especially as a member of the Clash that was one of the most popular bands in the 1980’s.

Use some of his quotes to send to your rock loving friends or family, post some on your social media while you listen to some of his music, or just become inspired or motivated by his words. If you have Apple Music, or Amazon Music or Spotify or another service, go ahead and play the Album London Calling by the Clash right now.

It is the best Clash album ever and you can enjoy Joe Strummer and the rest of the band.

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Image Credit: Masao Nakagami, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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