The Mescaleros

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The Mescaleros
Background information
Years active1999–2002
Past membersJoe Strummer
Martin Slattery
Scott Shields
Antony Genn
Simon Stafford
Tymon Dogg
John Blackburn
Jimmy Hogarth
Pablo Cook
Luke Bullen
Steve "Smiley" Barnard

The Mescaleros were the British backing band for Joe Strummer, formed in 1999, which went on to make three albums prior to Strummer's death in 2002.

Many of the band members were multi-instrumentalists. The original line up consisted of Strummer on vocals and guitar, Antony Genn on guitar, Scott Shields on bass, guitar and drums, Martin Slattery on keyboards and guitar, as well as flute and saxophone on select songs, Pablo Cook on various percussion instruments and Steve Barnard on drums, using his stage moniker "Smiley". Richard Flack was also employed to use effects and instruments.

The name "The Mescaleros" for my new group is something I just stole from a cowboy film I was watching one night. So, um, really, doesn't have any meaning to the direction. But we're moving in a kind of roots reggae, rock thing. I mean, more or less, as if time hadn't passed. But, we're trying to move it into the future as well. Definitely don't wanna stay in the past. Gotta get out of the past! It's a quagmire of treacle.

Joe Strummer, 1999, Hultsfred Festival, Sweden

The Mescaleros rose out of Strummer's work with Pablo Cook and Richard Norris. The three of them originally came together to write the soundtracks for two short films, Tunnel of Love, and Question of Honour. The song "Yalla Yalla" was originally written by this trio, and mixed by Antony Genn. Once Genn was brought on board, a new song "Techno D-Day" was recorded, at which point Strummer, at the behest of Genn, began recording a new record.

The original drummer, Ged Lynch, left the band before recording on Rock Art & The X-Ray Style was complete and Smiley (Robbie Williams' former drummer) was brought in to finish recording. Shields and Slattery were recruited through a number of contacts with the band. Slattery had also appeared on Robbie Williams' Life Thru a Lens album, and Scott Shields was a friend of Slattery's. Oddly enough, in the initial lineup, only Smiley was playing the instrument which he knew best.

Genn reportedly did not have the ability to play sufficient lead guitar, hence Slattery was brought in. He, however, was trained in horns and keyboards and was a multi-instrumentalist. Strummer once joked that Slattery could play a hole in the windshield of the tour bus. Shields had previously been a drummer but was recruited to play bass, and later guitar.


The Mescaleros' first gig was in Antony Genn's hometown of Sheffield at The Leadmill on 5 June 1999. They toured extensively for the next six months, including playing the Glastonbury Festival, the U.S., and Europe. 2000 saw the band play Big Day Out in Australia & New Zealand, plus tour Japan.

The band signed with the Californian punk label Hellcat Records, and issued three albums. Following the release of the first, Rock Art and the X-Ray Style, they toured England and North America; sets included several Clash-fan favourites.

Singer-songwriter Tymon Dogg, a longtime friend of Joe Strummer, joined the band in 2000 playing violin and Spanish guitar. He contributed some of the tunes on Global A Go-Go, including "Mondo Bongo".

Honorary Mescaleros include John Blackburn and Jimmy Hogarth, both of whom played bass in place of Scott Shields on the 2000 tour supporting The Who, which was also Tymon Dogg's first tour with the band. Andy Boo, Joe's guitar tec also appeared in the Mescaleros line up in place of Pablo Cook on percussion at a gig in Finland 1999.[1]

Following the departure of Genn and Smiley, Scott Shields moved to guitar, Simon Stafford was brought on board to play bass, and Luke Bullen was recruited to play drums. Pablo Cook left in August 2001 to join Moby.

Following the release of Global A Go-Go, Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros mounted a 21-date tour of North America, Britain, and Ireland. Once again, these concerts featured Clash material ("London Calling", "Rudie Can't Fail"), as well as classic covers of reggae hits ("The Harder They Come", "A Message to You, Rudy") and regularly closed the show with a nod to Joey Ramone by playing The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop".

Musically, the Mescaleros continued the genre mixing that Strummer was known for during his time with The Clash. Elements of reggae, jazz, funk, hip hop, country, and of course punk rock can be found in the three Mescaleros releases.[1]

The band is also the subject of a documentary by Dick Rude titled Let's Rock Again! which was released on 27 June 2006. The band also appear on many DVDs (see full list below) and have had several of their songs appear in major films such as Black Hawk Down and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. One song, "Johnny Appleseed," was used as the theme song to the HBO series John From Cincinnati.

Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros' last concert was on 22 November 2002, in Liverpool. This show is often overlooked however, in favor of citing the 15 November show at Acton Town Hall. It was this show, which was a benefit for striking fire fighters, that Mick Jones joined Strummer on stage for the first time in nearly twenty years, during the Clash song "Bankrobber." An encore followed with both "White Riot" and "London's Burning". The Last Night London Burned, a 64-page book written by George Binette,[2] showing never before published pictures of Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, and a 26 minutes film by Gregg McDonald and Alan Miles, were released as a unique visual record of that last London concert by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros.[3] Following the conclusion of this tour, the band headed straight for the studio, but Strummer died of a congenital heart defect on 22 December 2002[4] after returning home from walking his dogs.

The band's final album, Streetcore, was released posthumously on 20 October 2003.

The band also made appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, as well as touring on the Hootenany Festival in the summer of 2001.

Various Mescaleros have performed at numerous tribute concerts in both UK & Europe. Mescaleros Pablo Cook & Smiley together with Mike Peters (the Alarm), Derek Forbes (Simple Minds), Steve Harris (Gary Numan) are in Los Mondo Bongo (a celebration of the music of Joe Strummer) who together with Ray Gange (DJ) tour whenever possible performing those great Mescaleros tunes and have toured the UK and Canada.

Antony Genn currently fronts The Hours, a band that he and fellow Mescalero Martin Slattery formed in 2004.

In an October 2013 interview with BBC 6 Music, Mick Jones confirmed that in the months prior to Strummer's death, the two were writing new music together. At the time, Jones assumed the new songs would be on an upcoming Mescaleros album. But months later he ran into Strummer at an event, and Strummer informed him that the music was intended for a new Clash album.[5]



Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros discography
Studio albums3
Studio albums
Year Album Information Chart positions
1999 Rock Art and the X-Ray Style 71
2001 Global A Go-Go
  • Released: 24 July 2001 (2001-07-24)
  • Label: Hellcat Records
2003 Streetcore
  • Released: 21 October 2003 (2003-10-21)
  • Label: Hellcat
50 160
2012 Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros: The Hellcat Years
  • Released: 21 August 2012 (2012-08-21)
  • Label: Hellcat
2012 Live at Acton Town Hall
  • Released: 23 November 2012 (2012-11-23)
  • Label: Hellcat
Year Single Album Chart positions
1999 "Yalla Yalla" (Ineligible to chart) Rock Art and the X-Ray Style
1999 "Tony Adams" Rock Art and the X-Ray Style
2001 "Johnny Appleseed" Global A Go-Go 153
2003 "Coma Girl" Streetcore 33
"Redemption Song" / "Arms Aloft" 46

DVDs on which Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros appear:


  1. ^ a b Encoule, Jean (January 2003). "Joe Strummer - 1952-2002". Retrieved 17 November 2007. The Mescaleros duly delivered "Rock Art & The X-Ray Style" (1999) & "Global A Go-Go" (2001). The Mescaleros may have changed from tour to tour, but the songs remained the same (Joe even found work for his old busking pal & fiddler, Tymon Dogg, for the first time since "Sandinista"). The music was a glorious amalgamation of every aspect of Joe’s character: as wide as his vision & as big as his heart. I caught shows on each tour, to see Joe again after so long was just as exhilarating as it had been the first time round. The last time I saw him I’d decided that he was gonna live forever & turn into a gnarled punk/blues/world amalgamation of Bo Diddly, Woody Guthrie & Muddy Waters – a man for all seasons & all generations. A foot soldier of the old guard destined to continue teaching lesser minds the beauty & power of legitimate protest through an art-form: "Let fury have the hour, anger can be power, you know that we can use it".
  2. ^ Binette, George Robert (2003). The Last Night London Burned. London. ISBN 0-9544620-0-9.
  3. ^ McDonald, Gregg; Alan Miles (2003). "The Last Night London Burned". Retrieved 4 December 2007. A Film by Gregg McDonald and Alan Miles. - An account of Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros (featuring Mick Jones) FBU benefit concert at Acton Town Hall
  4. ^ "Clash star Joe Strummer dies". ENTERTAINMENT. 23 December 2002. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 23 November 2007. Strummer, who was the band's guitarist, vocalist and songwriter alongside Mick Jones, died on Sunday at his farmhouse in Somerset, southwestern England.
  5. ^ "The Clash - Mick Jones: 'Secret Joe Strummer Tunes Could Have Sparked The Clash's Comeback'". Contact Music. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b "The Official Charts Company - Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Chart Log UK: DJ S - The System of Life". Dipl.-Bibl.(FH) Tobias Zywietz, 1994–2009. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
  8. ^ "allmusic ((( Joe Strummer > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Billboard. Retrieved 20 July 2010.


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