Janette Beckman: "Joe Strummer was a stand up guy, always easy for me to shoot and be around"

In the week Joe Strummer received a blue plaque in London, our New York editor recalls the first time she shot the Clash

Joe Strummer died too recently to receive an official blue plaque, but a housing cooperative in Marylebone has unveiled its own version, to mark the squat he lived in on Daventry Street. Our New York editor, Janette Beckman, photographed Strummer and the Clash through the '70s and '80s. She recalls her first meeting with a musician whose legacy still resonates.

(Click the gallery to see more of Beckman's rarely published images of Strummer)

"I first photographed the Clash in 1978 at the Music Machine in Camden Town with Jimmy Pursey from Sham 69 and Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols jamming onstage with them.

"In 1981 at the weekly Melody Maker staff meeting young journalist Paolo Hewitt and I got the dream  assignment to go to Milan to do a story on the Clash. They were playing at a bicycle stadium, the dressing room was an underground cave, by the time we arrived the band were stoned and Paolo and I had to photograph and interview them before the show. When they went onstage I remember everyone in the stadium holding up those Bic lighters – the band were brilliant as usual.

"The next time I met Joe was when I got the job to shoot the cover for his new band the 101'ers. We took the photos in Notting Hill, the hood where we all used to hang out. There was an old homeless man w knew on the street and we got him in some of the photos – I think he made it onto the back cover.

"Joe was a stand up guy, always easy for me to shoot and be around. We lost him way too early. To this day The Clash are most peoples' favourite punk band. They symbolised the passion and rebellion of those times."