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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Pre-punk Strummer tape is found
Hairy student: 'Woody' in his folk phase at art college
A college friend of the late Clash frontman Joe Strummer has re-discovered a recording made by the punk legend before he was famous.

Richard Frame and Strummer were art student pals when the future rock star - who died at 50 in 2002 - called himself Woody in tribute to his folk hero, Woody Guthrie.

They shared a house in Newport, south Wales, where amateur bands had the use of a reel-to-reel tape recorder.

Frame has salvaged two tracks Strummer wrote for his then folk band.

The first, thought to be the earliest known recording of Strummer, is called Bumble Bee Blues.

The last bit of music that he made before he died sounded very like the kind of music he liked when he was here
Richard Frame

It is clearly influenced by Strummer's musical hero at the time, the American Woody Guthrie.

Those who know Strummer only as the passionate punk pioneer with The Clash, probably the most revered band of its era, will be surprised to hear it is a country song, albeit fast-paced.

The second track for the band - The Vultures - is an instrumental with Strummer on slide guitar.

The Clash
The Clash, with Strummer hunched down, in their '70s heyday
Soon after, Strummer found London calling, and left Wales for the capital. There he played with another band, the 101-ers, before he saw the Sex Pistols, realised the musical revolution was for him, and soon after joined The Clash.

Meanwhile, Frame stayed on in Newport after his art student days and now runs an organisation for homeless people.

He said: "We didn't know him as Joe Strummer then, the type of music he was interested in was nothing like punk.

"We knew him as Woody because he was a big fan of Woody Guthrie.

"We lived in a rundown house just behind the railway station.

"We just had a reel-to-reel tape recorder. There were a number of us living there and we used to be in various bands and wherever we wanted to do any recordings we just used to turn this on.

"Of course nobody really knew what was on the reel-to-reel tapes.

"I just made a cassette one day of what was on the reel-to-reel tape before I left college.

"It's strange really because the last bit of music that he made before he died sounded very like the kind of music he liked when he was here, so he had gone round in a circle."

Strummer can be heard checking with a more experienced guitar player in the band before launching into the song.

Joe Strummer
After The Clash broke up, Strummer played with the Mescaleros
Frame added: "Woody was not particularly confident in his ability to play the guitar - he is checking that he has got the right key."

They became the biggest punk band in the world before finally splitting in 1986.

After the demise of The Clash, Strummer remained active, writing for films and acting in them, and later touring with his new band the Mescaleros.

He was also renowned for his political activism. One of his final appearances before his death was at a fund-raising evening for striking firemen alongside his Clash songwriting partner Mick Jones.

The Bumble Bee Blues was broadcast for the first time on a BBC Radio Wales documentary telling the story of the creative energy spilling out from Newport in the 1970s.

Richard Frame
"The type of music he was interested in was nothing like punk"

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