“He’s in love with Rock’n’Roll, woah,
He’s in love with gettin’ stoned, woah,
He’s in love with Janie Jones, woah!”
The first song on The Clash’s eponymous debut LP name checks a ‘notorious madam’, straight from the English swinging ’60s. Janie Jones was a Northern lass who started out as a singer and performer at London’s Windmill Club before flirting with pop stardom, and releasing a novelty single ‘Witches Brew’ in 1966.
Like, Cynthia Payne after her, Janie Jones hosted “parties” at her home in Kensington, but unlike Cynthia’s well documented spanking soirees run on a budget of luncheon vouchers, Janie allegedly hosted the high-flyers; namely actors, pop stars, politicians and DJs.
Despite, or maybe because of, the circles that Janie was moving in, she was arrested in 1973, and although she fought the law, the law inevitably won, and she served four years of a stiff seven year sentence for running a “prostitution ring”. To set the case in context, it’s worth remembering that in 1967, the contraceptive pill was made available in the UK – not just for married women but for anyone who wanted it – and this is seen as one of the kick starters of the permissive society. Anecdotally, it kick started an era of countless sex parties, high class prostitutes, involvement of the rich and famous – all dressed up in thigh-length kinky boots of course.
In the excellent blog, Dangerous Minds, Marc Campbell suggests Janie had been made something of an example of by the establishment;
“She was mostly known for her uninhibited sexuality and “fuck you” attitude toward the stodgy and hypocritical British establishment. She hung out with actors, politicians and rock stars, including Marc Bolan, Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield. But her biggest claim to fame was when she was arrested and imprisoned for running a prostitution ring. Her high rolling friends were shocked at what was considered a harsh sentence for something as benign as arranging “dates” for some of London’s most famous hipsters. This was the sixties after all, the era of free love. It was as if she were being punished for the behaviour of an entire generation. Janie’s bust made her an instant cause celebre and the fodder for countless tabloid headlines.”
Upon her release in 1977, Janie Jones became an unlikely punk icon through her association with The Clash song, and later became friends with Joe Strummer himself. Joe wrote another song for Janie called “House of the Ju-Ju Queen” which Janie duly recorded with members of The Clash and The Blockheads as the backing band. To complete this game of musical muse ping-pong, and as a gesture of her affection for Strummer, Jones working with the songwriter Tony Waddington, delivered the heartfelt return tribute song called “A Letter To Joe”.
“You walked right in, where angels never dared, you came and rescued me, made me feel like a celebrity, gave me back my dignity. Hey Joe, I just wanted you to see, want you to know how much that meant to me, yours faithfully…Hey Joe, you’ll always be in my heart and so special to me”….
Janie Jones – House of the Ju-Ju Queen – A Letter to Joe
Joe and Janie sitting in a tree…..
3 thoughts on “Janie Jones”
It is one of their best songs. I always thought it was about some cool punk rock girl. As for Janie Jones’ heavy prosecution and sentencing, I’m reminded of Martha Stewart. Thanks for the rundown.
When myself & friends first heard the Clash song Janie Jones we wondered if it was a real person – my theory being it was a relation of Mick Jones..seeing the image of the band with an ‘older woman’ on the page to the track in the Clash songbook indicated it WAS an actual person …some time later bit by bit we put ‘the story’together..
The song was obviously one of the bands most popular tracks off their debut ,being a regular in their live set for their duration .. ( the Lash ‘House of the Ju Ju Queen’ was possibly not a classic)..
From some interviews she did ,It did seem there was a genuine fondness for Joe from ms Jones.
Hi Andre, thanks for your comment. I think many of us wondered if JJ was a real person or not. So glad that she is, and it’s a great story and we think you’re right about there being a great fondness between JJ and Joe.