On the 21st April, 1982 – just three weeks before the release of The Clash’s fifth studio album ‘Combat Rock’, Joe took the boat and train from London to Paris, with then-girlfriend Gaby Salter to enter the Paris Marathon.
So you wonder how did Joe find himself in Paris and why did he run the Marathon? – well here’s the full story.
After the release of their previous 1980 album, the widely ambitious “Sandinista! A triple LP album containing 36 tracks and featuring many music genres and styles, including funk, reggae, jazz, gospel, rockabilly, folk, dub, rhythm and blues, calypso, disco, and rap. The triple album won several “best of the year” critics polls in 1981. It was voted the best album of the year in The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics poll and Dave Marsh noted that it was a record whose topic was as many years ahead of its time as its sound.
To get people talking about their upcoming new album and shows, manager Bernie Rhodes suggested to Joe that he take a trip to Austin, Texas and go and stay with country singer Joe Ely for a few weeks, to stir up some controversy to help to increase ticket sales for an up and coming tour. Joe agreed, but instead took a Boat and Train and headed to Paris without telling anyone – turning a hoax AWOL story into a real one. After sometime The Clash camp started to worry when they never heard back from them and got private detectives involved to try to track him down. But in the end it was Kosmo Vinyl who found Joe.
In Chris Salewicz Strummer biography ‘Redemption Song’, Joe and Gaby travelled around the city by metro, reading articles about Strummer’s disappearance. And together they ran the Paris marathon. Joe alleges that he finished the race in an astonishing 3 hours, 20 minutes while Gaby finished last.
In an interview with US Magazine Steppin’ Out in 1999. They asked Joe how he prepared for the Marathon.
Q: Didn’t you once run in the Paris Marathon?
Joe: Yep. I ran three of them.
Q: Correct me if I’m wrong but is it also true that you never trained for any of them?
Joe: You shouldn’t really ask me about my training regime, you know.
Joe: Because it’s not good and I wouldn’t want people to copy it.
Q: Don’t make me beat it out of you.
Joe: Okay, you want it, here it is. Drink 10 pints of beer the night before the race. Ya got that? And don’t run a single step at least four weeks before the race.
Q: No running at all?
Joe: No, none at all. And don’t forget the 10 pints of beer the night before. But make sure you put a warning in this article, “Do not try this at home.” I mean, it works for me and Hunter Thompson but it might not work for others. I can only tell you what I do.
The Paris wasn’t the only Marathon Joe participated in. In 1981 he ran his first London Marathon – sponsored by English tabloid The Sun. and in 1983 for the second and last time he ran the London Marathon on The Sun newspaper team, who were running in aid for Leukaemia Research, where he finished with a time of 4 hours and 13 minutes.
Photos of Joe Just before starting the 1983 London Marathon.
© Steve Rapport
In this interview from 1988, Joe tells the truth about how he ended up at the Paris Marathon.