I watched a great documentary film on the late musician Joe Strummer (The Clash, The Mescaleros) called Let’s Rock Again! last night. An hour long and directed by Dick Rude (who played the character Duke in the extraordinary cult classic Repo Man), the film follows Strummer on tour with his band the Mescaleros towards the much-too-early end of his life in December 2002.
One of the coolest parts for someone who works in the Bayport One building on the Black Horse Pike (where the Atlantic City Weekly offices are located as well as numerous radio stations) was to see Strummer — en route to a gig at The Shell at Trump Marina in Atlantic City at the Trump Marina in August 2002 — roll up to the front door of the Bayport One building — after turning to the camera from his car seat and saying “Welcome to Pleasantville” — to plug his show on the local rock station WZXL 100.7. Unannounced.
With it being a weekend, the doors were locked, so Strummer (and cameraman Rude) went behind the building where the back-door entrance and intercom is located. We see Strummer try the back door, dial up the station on intercom, get brushed off by someone there (a WAYV part-timer at the time) and then — finally — inside the station talking on and off air with DJ Steve Raymond (who was two songs away from playing a Clash tune!) about The Mescaleros’ new album and the show in Atlantic City. Later in the doc, we see Strummer on the Atlantic City Boardwalk handing out fliers to his own concert (video link at end of this post). Only one person seems to recognize the legendary punk-rock bandleader.
So….although it’s print deadline day for us here at AC Weekly, I had to go downstairs to talk with Raymond about the experience. I just did.
“I wasn’t supposed to work that day,” Raymond told me. “My wife and I were headed to Delaware for the day when I get a call that the part-time weekend DJ called out sick. I was so upset, but I had to come in. I was spitting nails coming up the Parkway.”
A little later that day, Raymond, as he put it, “was in the right place at the right time.”
As the film shows, Raymond goes to the back door of Bayport One and greets Strummer — in awe. “It turns out he was the greatest guy. I just wished I had prepared more for an interview!”
Strummer was finishing up a tour in Atlantic City and was headed to Japan. He died four months later.
“So it turns out that I — [along with the DJ from KROQ in Los Angeles, also shown in the film] — was the last American radio DJ to interview Strummer before he died,” said Raymond. He recalls Strummer signing a copy of his latest “biscuit” Global A Go-Go (released in July 2001) and WZXL giving it away to a lucky caller that same day. Strummer also signed a Rolling Stone music encyclopedia for Raymond.
For fans of the Clash, Atlantic City miscellany or Strummer, the very thoughtful, funny and talented man, add Let’s Rock Again! to your Netflix queue right now. Check out the great clip below of Strummer pitching his show on the Boardwalk circa August 2002: