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Fly On The Wall: Joe Strummer Runs Paris Marathon

In 1982, Joe Strummer decided to run the Paris marathon. This is the story behind that decision

In the spring of 1982, The Clash were starting to come apart at the seams. The strain between guitarist Mick Jones and the rest of the band was compounded by drummer Topper Headon’s debilitating heroin problem. Rather than confront the problems, frontman Joe Strummer decided to take drastic action by taking off to Paris without telling his bandmates, his manager or his label, CBS. The media speculated that it was a publicity stunt put together by the band’s manager, Bernard Rhodes, to promote their soon-to-be-released new album, Combat Rock, and the subsequent tour. Little did anyone know that Strummer was about to gatecrash the Paris Marathon.

Topper Headon (drummer, The Clash): It wasn’t a very happy band at that time. I was addicted to drugs, out of my head all the time. As well as that, Mick was behaving like a rock star, and we’d all lost sight of what we’d set out to do in the first place.

Bernard Rhodes (manager, The Clash): Joe had a lot of personal problems, okay? And I told him: “Take a break”. He was gonna go on a big tour and I didn’t want that hanging. I told him to go and sort it out.

Joe Strummer: I just got up and went to Paris without even thinking about it. I might have gone a bit barmy, you know? I knew a lot of people were going to be disappointed, but I had to go.

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