The humble beginnings of The Clash in Maida Vale
Sanchez Manning LEGENDARY punk rockers The Clash have revealed for the first time the personal details of the group s birth in the 1970s squats of Maida Vale. A new book, written in the band s own words, tells of how lead singer Joe Strummer – who died in
LEGENDARY punk rockers The Clash have revealed for the first time the personal details of the group's birth in the 1970s squats of Maida Vale.
A new book, written in the band's own words, tells of how lead singer Joe Strummer - who died in 2002 - first came across fellow founding members at the labour exchange in Lisson Grove.
A Job Centre is still there but the dilapidated buildings have long since been replaced with luxury homes owned by millionaire bankers.
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But one of Strummer's former flatmates, Julian Yewdall, still lives on Shirland Road and has vivid memories of the events he witnessed which would later become musical history.
He was part of the 101'ers - the first band the future Clash frontman put together with the other squatters he lived with at the house of the same number in Walterton Road, Maida Hill.
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"The members of the house formed a band and that's how the 101'ers started in 1974," recalls Mr Yewdall. "It was just a wild kind of time. Joe Strummer was just another guy living in the house but he was the one motivated to get the band together.
"There were originally eight or nine in the group but a lot dropped out and it was eventually whittled down to four.
"I did a bit of singing early on, although my main contribution to the band was when I left and started to photograph the band instead. I was much more comfortable behind the camera."
Mr Yewdall, now 56, also told of the squalid conditions in which the members of the 101'ers and The Clash lived.
"We were all living hand-to-mouth and eventually we got the gas and electric connected in the flat but we didn't have hot water for years.
"It was a very depressed area with rundown empty houses. Walterton Road and Elgin Avenue was a huge squatting area and it was very well organised by Piers Corbyn, brother of (Islington North) MP Jeremy Corbyn.
"So there were lots of marches and the 101'ers played gigs for these events so they had a ready-made audience."
Once the punk revolution started, Strummer was quickly drawn into the new music scene and away from his original band.
"Once punk came along that's when Joe decided to go into a new band and go for a new sound," said Mr Yewdall.
"He realised that playing old rock songs wasn't getting him anywhere. So that was the end of the 101'ers.
"He was very determined but he also was a good laugh. Joe had something special and carried that forward into The Clash."
The Clash: Strummer, Jones, Simonon, Headon was published by Atlantic this month, price £30.