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This page last updated
Tue, Apr 19, 2005 2:39 pm

Also by Tony Fletcher...

HEDONISM Tony Fletcher's debut novel is available mail order in the USA from Barnes& It's available mail order in the UK from or
More info on Hedonism here.

REMARKS REMADE The first ever R.E.M. biography fully updated with ten new chapters covering Reveal and beyond. Available at UK bookstores, and musicroom. Available at select stores in the States and through More info here

MOON The American edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores,, and amazon More info here

DEAR BOY The British edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores, and amazon More info here.

Limited hardback editions of Dear Boy/Moon remain available through, and barnes&

Never Stop: The Echo & The Bunnyment Story is out of print.



Mick Jones atop the RCA building, New York City, 1981. Photo by Bob Gruen from his book The Clash

(Continued from Part 1)

-I grew up Dulwich way…


-And I had a lot of friends that went to schools like Dulwich College and Alleyn's

Yeah, I know Alleyn's…

-And came from good families, and they resented it, rebelled against it. I went to football with them, and they got into trouble 'cos they were rebelling against that. Anyone growing up in Britain at the time couldn't but be aware of the class thing…

It was still pretty strong then. People had different backgrounds.

-And then the punk thing played into all our lives.

It was more difficult for Joe, is what you're saying? That must have been why he turned out like he did. [Laughs.] Because it took extra from him.

-It is what I'm asking. Maybe what I got was, your parents will throw you a certain way, but it's your decision how you choose to live your life. Joe made a decision. No one has to apologise for where they come from, it's where you go, it's what you do with what you have. Is that a fair assessment of Joe?

Sounds like it, yeah.

-You seemed to forgive him very quickly for booting him out of The Clash. That's got to say something for the depth of friendship.

Yeah. I was in Nassau. And I'd just done the first BAD album, and Joe came looking for me. He came and rode round the island for two days on a bicycle, looking for me. [Laughs.] Literally! And he found me, and I said, Come and listen to the new BAD record. And we went into the studio and I played him the record and I said, 'What do you think of it?' And he said, very gracefully, 'I never heard such a load of shit in my life!' (Laughs hysterically.) 'And we should get it back together again.' But it didn't seem the right time. We never got back together again, but we all became firm friends again very soon after. That was the nicest thing of all about the band. We were great friends again.

-It must have involved a certain amount of humility on Joe's part.

…You mean, like public contrition?

-Well, private contrition… Public to you! The important part being in public to you.

I think we all blamed ourselves for that time. And another important factor was that we were a group that didn't have holidays, boiled over, went so fast, like a runaway train, and we never had any time to get off the train. These things happen in groups 'cos that's the way it is. And we were able to get over that as people – though it took us a long time to get over the group, I must say. (Suddenly very serious.) Even if we ever have. Because it was such a monumentous thing to us all.

-And I have no response to that… Except to wonder whether, with the success you had in America with Combat Rock, whether Joe had it in him to be a conventional rock star.

It was getting harder for all of us at the time. They said I didn't want to tour… It wasn't that I didn't want to tour, I wanted to tour places we hadn't toured before. That came out as, I didn't want to tour. I wanted to go other places, go further, and then towards the last days, there was the New Orleans plot. Bernie had been back for a while and he was telling us to play New Orleans music, and it was really screwing us up, in rehearsals and everything. And he was saying, What record do you want to make, Mick? And I was saying, I want to make a rock'n'roll record. But it really affected our relationship right at that point where we were pretty fragile anyway. It threw a massive spanner in the works. And the next thing that happened was… I left the group.

-If I've read my history correctly, it seems that Bernie was the spanner in the works..

But I don't think we can blame anybody like that. I wasn't behaving well either. I was reacting against that. You can ask anybody else within the group, and they'd say, It wasn't Bernie. But Bernie deliberately, linearly set it up: maybe you can instill ideas in people in other ways, without… It became too complex for everybody and it was just something that we have learned to accept. Because now, I think, that's what happens in groups, a lot of the time. You go too much, you do too much, and you don't have time for reflection.

-I was stunned last year when that Hell W10 movie showed up. It was like, I thought they were taking a break at that point!

That was typical again. 'Let's make a film!' We had no other agenda there than that. Everyone put in their time totally without thinking about it. That was what we did on our time off: we worked!

-Was that mainly Joe's idea?

It was totally Joe's idea. He said, 'Let's make a film,' and we made a film. He directed it, he shot it, he did it. And then it was gone. It didn't even come out!

-Then unfortunately the band was gone soon after.

Yeah. A bit more. A different incarnation. [Unfortunately, I missed Mick making that reference to Joe's Cut The Crap Jones-less Clash and didn't offer a response.] To get back to the original question, I think it's possible that Joe could have seen how it was getting so much more difficult to justify it, but it was a question we asked ourselves all the way along the line: How can we do this and also deal with the contradictions that this presented? That was an ongoing dialogue throughout the whole thing.

-There are very few people can do it.

But if you can stay true to yourself, though, it's possible, maybe.

- I'm looking at it from a distance, so forgive me, but I'm wondering out loud whether Joe had it in him. I figure Bruce Springsteen has somehow pulled off that balance (Mick concurs), but whether Joe wanted to be in that place, whether he wanted to be selling that many records, whether he wanted to be that much what the general public called a rock star. Or whether he preferred backtracking and moving away from that. Whether he wasn't comfortable to be there. (I don't sense an answer coming over the phone line.) It's a rhetorical question, Mick.

I'm not sure, is the answer to that one, Tony!

-Well, I guess some of us figured you talked about these things…

When I say it was an ongoing dialogue, I don't mean we actually talked about it!



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(U.S. Publication to follow.)
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Read excerpts here

-In the later years, the last few years, the Mescaleros era to hone it down, do you think Joe was finding himself once more at a happier place, personally and musically?

I think it's quite a hard thing to come out again after that, but he'd spent long wilderness years doing soundtrack projects and acting in films and stuff. And I know he loved playing to the people, so that was always a big thing with him. And it was a thing he did so well. So I'm sure – I know – he was happy to be doing that.

-Had you made a decision between the three or four of you (I'm not sure where Topper plays into this) whether you would play at the Rock'n'roll Hall of Fame?

We hadn't reached a decision either way. We thought we may talk about it some more.

-So it would be wrong for Clash fans to think it was likely to happen?

That's right. We might have had to have done one other… because we weren't just going to play in Vegas. Not literally, but…

-You didn't want to just do it for this…

…This thing. Which Joe and I were both pleased to be part of, and Paul and Topper too, but there were some vague discussions on the pros and cons of it.

-There are hundreds of anecdotes about Joe. Is there any one that would demonstrate his character in a way you would want it to be remembered?

I think Joe taught us all a lot. And the main thing he taught us, was how, not that we didn't know it, was how to be with people. He was a man of the people. And I couldn't just give you one example of that. He was like that all the time.

-He was like that 24/7?

He was. Totally.

-What we saw was the real Joe? And what you saw was what the fans saw.

He totally meant it every second.

Mick as he is now, in Carbon/Silicon.

-I can't let you go without asking you two specific Clash questions. One is… The Pepe Unidos mixes: I'm getting specifically at the 'Magnificent 7' remixes. Were you part of that or not?

The PE United? No. I was on the outskirts. Pepe Unidos was Bernie Rhodes.

-Was Joe with him?

I'm not sure he was in there either. I think he may have been on the outside looking in!

-OK. 'Train In Vain' could never have been knocked off in a day, given that you had brass and piano on it.

There's only organ on it. We recorded in a day, yeah, last day. (Laughs.)

-You really came in at the last moment?

I did it the night before, I did a demo at home, came in with the song the next morning, into the studio, and we recorded it. Just like that. And Chrissie Hynde was upstairs, I was looking up at her through the window, the upstairs lounge, she was there. I recorded the song looking up at her. But it wasn't about her, obviously!

-Was it with the intention of a flexi disc?

There was talk of that. But in the end, we decided to include it on the album, but because the artwork had already gone to press, there was no way of putting the title on. That's how it turned out as not being originally on the artwork.

-So it really is, as it's always been said?

It was.

-And I guess I've always been amongst those who thought it was so incredibly good that it couldn't have been true! But I guess that brings us back to what the Clash had going…

Well, it's very nice of you to say so. (Chuckles.)

-You being so on the inside, I only hope time has enabled you to see the bigger picture.

I think that's what we all come to after a bit. We see it better, you know, try and deal with it. (Chuckles again.) Get over yourself!

-And move on…

Yeah, really.

-Have I come from the right place here about Joe? Is there anything you would add?

No. It's true what they say about Joe, that he was really like, he cared about everyone. People could tell that. Even now.

-Even more so now.

That's possible. Because we all miss him now.


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