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Last Updated: Friday, 22 July, 2005, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Plaque for Clash legend Strummer
Lucinda Mellor
There were major decisions he made here which affected him for the rest of his life
Joe Strummer's widow, Lucinda
The friend who arranged for a tribute plaque to Joe Strummer on the house where the punk legend wrote his first song admits he would have hated it.

But Richard Frame was determined to honour him at the south Wales bedsit where they lived together before Strummer found fame with The Clash.

Strummer died suddenly, aged 50, three years ago and his widow Lucinda Mellor was in Newport to unveil the plaque.

"He would have been very embarrassed and cross with me," smiled Mr Frame.

A CD and green vinyl record of an early Strummer tune, a folk number called Crummy Bum Blues, along with an interview he gave at the Glastonbury Festival the summer before his death, will be released by Mr Frame later this year to benefit young homeless musicians in Newport.

Joe Strummer
Strummer formed the Mescaleros after The Clash broke up
The recording is rough and ready, but Strummer's distinctive growl was clear when it was played outside the house at the unveiling of the plaque: "Joe Strummer lived here 1974."

The star's widow and 13-year-old stepdaughter Eliza - wearing a Clash T-shirt - joined a group of fans and old friends at the unprepossessing three-storey house in Pentonville for the ceremony.

Strummer spent about a year in the area in 1974, where he was known as Woody in homage to his hero, Woody Guthrie, the American Depression-era folk singer.

Plaque for Joe Strummer
The house bearing the plaque is close to Newport rail station

It was there that the long-haired art student taught himself how to play guitar and joined his first band.

Cropped hair

But within two years he saw the Sex Pistols, cropped his hair, and teamed up with Mick Jones and Paul Simonon to form probably the most influential and successful punk band.

They didn't think much of his guitar playing or singing, but the one thing he had was a drum kit
Richard Frame on how Strummer joined his first band

Mr Frame, now director of Newport single homeless project Solas, wanted to ensure Strummer's legacy was recognised where it all began.

Lucinda, who runs a West Country-based music charity for the young, Strummerville, told the BBC News website: "I feel rather emotional, actually.

Joe Strummer's old flat in Newport
Old friends, fans and media gathered for the unveiling

"I'm very touched by what Richard and his friends have done. Joe would be overwhelmed, and I would never have thought anyone would have done this."

Strummer, who died of a heart defect just before Christmas 2002, played with other bands after The Clash split in 1986, including his own group, the Mescaleros.

Lucinda said he rarely indulged in nostalgia, and she knew little about his time in Newport.

"He would say the past is like treacle, and he never talked very much about it. I never heard the same anecdote twice."

Lucinda Mellor and her daughter Eliza
Joe Strummer's stepdaughter Eliza and widow Lucinda
But she realised how much he had enjoyed his Newport days when he played in city club TJ's a few years before his death. "He got really animated when we came over the Severn Bridge and was so excited to be here," she said.

"What I do know is that he was happy here and there were major decisions he made here which affected him for the rest of his life. He decided he wanted to be a musician here."

Mr Frame recalled how Strummer was initially rejected when he wanted to join local band The Vultures.

"They didn't think much of his guitar playing or singing, but the one thing he had was a drum kit, and they agreed to let him in as long as they could use it."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Richard Frame
"The type of music he was interested in was nothing like punk"



SEE ALSO:
Karaoke performance of Clash hit
17 Jul 04 |  Entertainment
Strummer leaves fitting tribute
24 Oct 03 |  Entertainment
Punk legends The Clash honoured
03 Sep 03 |  Entertainment
Forest tribute to Clash star
19 Jan 03 |  Scotland
Billy Bragg: The Joe I knew
02 Jan 03 |  Entertainment


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