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Blue plaque unveiled in honour of Joe Strummer of The Clash

04 Aug 2022 4 minute read
The blue plaque unveiled in Newport celebrating Joe Strummer’s first gig (Credit: Sam Dabb)

A plaque marking the place in Newport where The Clash frontman Joe Strummer played his first gig has been unveiled.

The punk icon who would have celebrated his 70th birthday later this month, lived in Newport for a time in the 1970s before he formed one of the most influential punk bands of all time, The Clash.

The musician played his first gig in October 1973 at the old art college student union at 88 Stow Hill, where the plaque was unveiled by one of Joe Strummer’s daughters, Lola, along with her mum Gaby and two children Ramone and Raven.

It’s not the first plaque unveiled in honour of Joe Strummer in Newport, the first can be found on the front of 12 Pentonville where The Clash star lived during his time in the city.

Today’s plaque unveiling was organised by Richard Frame, a friend of the musician, during his time in Wales.

According to the South Wales Argus newspaper, Richard Frame spoke at the unveiling about how Joe Strummer, arrived in Newport aged 20. Calling himself Woody, he vowed to become a rock and roller and had given himself a year to “get s**t hot on the guitar”.

“Joe used to talk about Newport a lot. It made a big impression on him,” his former partner Gaby told the newspaper.

“He made a big deal about his job as a grave digger that he had when he lived here.”

His daughter Lola said: “It’s great to see the plaque and learn more about the project here in Newport celebrating Joe’s early years before The Clash.

“He was a very private person and didn’t speak about much and I was only 16 when he died so I didn’t know much about his back history and I am still learning about him. This will help!”

Richard Frame is organising an exhibition in the city later this month based on an iconic picture taken of Joe Strummer when he worked as a gravedigger at St Woolos Cemetery in Newport.

He has teamed up with photographer Ian Agland who taken a series of photographs recreating the image, but with musicians associated with Newport over the last 50 years.

The exhibition will open oN August 21, on what would have been Strummer’s 70th birthday at 88 Stow Hill in the hall that he performed his first gig in October 1973.

The exhibition, which is open to the public will run for a week from  Sunday, August 21.

Joe Strummer working as a gravedigger in Newport (Credit: Richard Frame)

Those featured in the exhibition include:

Alan Jones, Amen Corner;
Lyndon Needs, Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers
Richard Frame, Gaydogs
Jon Langford, Mekons
Ken Moore, Ralph and the Ponytails
Ray Ennis, Racing Cars
Mike MacNamara, Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band
Richard Glover, Dub War
Benji Webbe, Skindred
Richard Parfitt, 60ft Dolls
Andrea Lewis, Darling Buds
Sam Dabb, Disco
Matt Gray, Give Me Memphis
Julian Hayman, The Men of Gwent
Danni Munroe, Dirty Youth
Joe Talbot, Idles
Dave Cox, Calamity
Meg Cox, AVANC

Joe Strummer playing live in Japan (Masao Nakagami, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
8 days ago

I shall make sure I attend this.I have a lot of love for The Clash.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
7 days ago

In the blue plaque item involving RT earlier, I referred to people associated with our country for positive reasons. I chose my words carefully because I knew there would be countless examples such as this one. Joe Strummer playing his first gig in Newport is well worth a blue plaque.

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
7 days ago

My god! Artie Davies was right. They’ll give blue plaques for anything these days! The location of the first gig some minor pop star played at gets a plaque.
At this rate the nation is gonna have so many of these irrelevant little bon mots it will look like it has monkey pox!

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