JOE STRUMMER

with

THE 101'ers & THE CLASH

1974 - 1976

 

 

        " These previously unpublished documentary photographs provide a unique insight into the rise of Joe Strummer - from his early days fronting the legendary '101'ers through to the birth of The Clash and the explosion of punk.

Packed with over 65 superb black and white photographs, this new volume pre-dates existing available material and concentrates on the formative period of Strummer's career, prior to his gaining world-wide recognition with The Clash."    

(Quoted from the back cover of the above book which can be purchased by clicking on the book cover design)

 
 Joe Strummer, second son of a Foreign Office diplomat, was born John Graham Mellor on August 21, 1952 in Ankara, Turkey. From the age of eight, he attended boarding schools in London and Surrey. He was a model student and got O'Levels in Art, English and History and an A'Level in Art.
 

(John Mellor, with his schoolfriend Ken Powell, concentrating on their work at City of London Freemen's School in Ashtead,Surrey)

 

In 1970, Joe was accepted onto a Foundation course at the Central School of Art & Design, Southampton Row (now part of Central St.Martin's School of Art) and he lived in a suburban street at 18, Ash Grove, Palmers Green, North London.

 

 
 

Southgate Underground is the nearest train station to Bourne Road which leads into Hedge Lane and onto the peaceful world of ASH GROVE Road.

 

Joe shared a house at 18 Ash Grove in the northern London suburb of Palmers Green with some other Central School of Art and Design students. Clive Timperley had a room in Ash Grove early in 1971.He brought along a friend, Tymon Dogg, who had spent the previous two months sleeping on the floor of his former flat.

Houses immediately opposite.

Nearby shops in Hedge Lane.

Joe decided to leave the Central School of Art and Design College at roughly the same time as the Ash Grove household broke up in mid-1971.
 
 

Exit Holborn Station and turn right, The Central School of Art and Design in Southampton Row, is on the right.

 

 Walking through the wooden front doors and down the corridor, it gradually opens up into the world of the Central School of Art & Design.

 

 

Joe next moved on to 34, Ridley road, Harlesden.

 In 1972 the Ridley road residents were evicted bodily. All their goods, and all Joe's records, were chucked out of an upstairs bedroom window into the garden.

 
 

      Early in 1973, Joe drifted to Newport College of Art and Design with the intention of looking up another old Central School of Art & Design College friend, Forbes....at that time taking the Fine Art course.

When he first arrived in Newport, Joe lived in the basement at 16, Clyffard Crescent with Forbes (who also had an address Joe used known as : Wood c/o Sir Forbes Freshman, 18 North Street, Newport, Wales) and Mick Foote, a fine art student, who later went onto produce The Clash's self-title debut album.

 

 

By chance he met up with the College musicians in the Student Union; and in time became the vocalist for a band originally called Flaming Youth before renaming the band The Vultures. Most nights Joe would be found up at the Students Union on Stow Hill.

   

The main Student Union building was situated at 88, Stow Hill.

The Student Union included number 90, Stow Hill on the left and number 88, Stow Hill on the right of the photograph.

The Student Union with the cellar beneath.

The Student Union bar was situated to the left of the front door at 88, Stow Hill.

Whilst the Student Union Hall was situated down the corridor from behind the front door and was where The Vultures  appeared with Joe on vocals.

The Student Union Hall.

" During his first night in Newport he'd gone up the students Union on Stow Hill, a real dump of a place, but a hive of musical activity. Like all good art colleges there were at least a few bands bashing away, that night a rehearsal was in full swing with the band that was to become the Vultures. Not having anything better to do and liking the feel of the place, Joe decided to stay, having already spent some time in art college himself he fitted in perfectly."

 

The SILVER SANDS in Pill (Commercial Road) was a Night Club Joe visited on a Saturday night and was where he was introduced to a type of reggae that his fellow students had not heard before.

" Another popular place for us all to hang out in on a Saturday night was The Silver Sands club down in the docks of Newport. You paid your small entrance fee,bought a can of Colt 45 and headed off down into the dungeon where it was pitch black with air thick with dope and very loud West Indian music, which was new to us, it was a type of Reggae but the only singing came from those who got up and grabbed the mike, a sort of early karaoke come rap thing. The influence of this place can clearly be heard on a lot of the Clash's material, particularly on White Man in Hammersmith Palais.
I have no doubt that when Woody left in '74 that what he took away with him helped shape the forthcoming Punk Movement and probably one of the greatest rock bands ever - The Clash."

 

 

The Murenger pub in the town centre was often a favourite drinking venue for Joe and his friends.

 

 
" The first time I met Joe was in The Murenger pub in 1973 a favourite haunt of us art students as it was the only pub in town you could smoke a joint in the back bar. Apparently John "Woody" Mellor had had enough of dosing around London and had decided to head down to Cardiff in pursuit of an old girl friend. It seemed she wasn't particularly keen on seeing him again and sent him packing. With no real plans he decide to call in on Newport looking for an old friend Martyn Forbes who he'd been at art college in London the previous year."
 

   Newport Cemetery is located at the top of Stow Hill. Bassaleg and Risca Roads skirt the Cemetery. This is where Joe took a job tending the graves.

   
   

  From the centre of Newport town, Stow Hill leads into Bassaleg Road.

 

      The Hand Post Pub is at the junction of Bassaleg Road and Risca Road. With Risca leading off to the right of the pub.

 

 

   Llanthewy Road joins Risca Road and leads down into Devon Place and Pentonville where Joe Strummer lived.

 

 

Caerau Road leads into Clytha Park Road which passes over the railway line and on into the Queensway where Newport Station (South Wales) is located.

 

 
 

 

 

 

      Being of slight build, Joe wasn't strong enough to actually dig the graves, so he just used to wheel the barrow around and collect the broken jam jars. He spent a whole winter doing nothing but this in Newport. He was paid 15.50 a week.

 

Between the Queensway and Devon Place is located Newport Railway Station.

Pentonville is at the end of Devon Place with St.Marks Church nearby.

 

St Marks Church is in Gold Tops Road.

Gold Tops links with Serpentine Road, Stanley Road and Devon Place.

 

             A Newport College of Art musician by the name of Jiving Al was living in a flat at 12 Pentonville, behind the train station, and Joe was invited to move into the spare room for the remainder of his stay in Newport.

 

1 to 8 Pentonville

 

 

Opposite 1 to 8 Pentonville is SHIRE HALL which was Newport's County Hall but is now a block of Offices.

On the corner of Queens Hill stood a Police Station and the Law Courts.

The Newport Magistrates Court have been based here since the early 90's but were originally ESTATE OFFICES owned by Lord Tredegar which is situated at one end of Pentonville. 0ne to eight Pentonville are situated on the left with Queens Hill on the right.

View from Newport Magistrates Court down to the small hamlet of Pentonville.

    Although Joe knew a lot of people, he was not a great mixer, and much of his time was spent on his own, in his room. Joe would spend his time working on a variety of activities which involved painting, reading, writing and strumming his guitar.

 

During his stay in Newport, Joe Strummer was actually known as Woody (Guthrie) Mellor.

Situated between the News agency (10 & 11) and SERVU TAXI (13) is 12 Pentonville with a landlord and tenants.

Richard Frame remained in Newport after leaving the Art College and actually socialised with Joe before moving into his room when Joe moved out and back to London.

 

 

Joe's room was on the second floor on the right. The left window was where the kitchen stood.                                             

 " Later he moved into a flat in Pentonville and it was here that he really got down to learning to play the guitar. He'd come down with his ukulele, which he'd already learnt a couple of tunes on and had even down a bit of busking with.".

" Woody was very serious when it came to music and would always be jotting things down in a little note book, it was whilst living in Pentonville that he recorded the first song he'd written, "Crummy Bum Blues" on an old reel to reel tape recorder."

STRUMMER TAPE DISCOVERED

     Although Joe was not himself a full-time student at Newport College of Art, he was living a life that was as full and stimulating as poverty would allow.

(Strummer in Newport)

 

   

The Red building use to be Lovell's Cafe, a debt collector building and a series of Second hand shops.

             The Mill Street Club use to be called The Aluminium Club.

 

A small row of shops are situated opposite 12 Pentonville. To the right is the entrance to the UNDER PATH leading under the railway line and directly into the heart of Newport town.

 A BRIDGE use to cross over the railway line and the entrance was to the left of the shop which was a Newsagent but is now the RAILWAY TANDOORI.

 

 

With the development of the Railway Station Area, the bridge was demolished during the early 80's and the UNDERPATH built.

 

 

The UNDER PATH is down a stepping ramp to the right of the photograph (below left).

 
 

            At the other end of Pentonville is the ROYAL MAIL pub and a cul de sac.                 

The pub use to be called The Old White Lion and a major through road existed but now a Royal Mail building stands and a series of bollards.

 

View looking back up to the small hamlet of Pentonville.

 

    On the opposite side to Newport Town Centre are the ruins of NEWPORT CASTLE. The DOME in the distance is the old and neglected NEWPORT SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN building in Clarence Place, which closed in the early 90's, and stands alongside the River USK. In the past, the Art College was an engineer college known as the NEWPORT TECHNICAL INSTITUTE.

   

NEWPORT CASTLE

Founded by the Earls of Stafford 1372-1386.

Re-fortified at the time of the rising led by Owain Glyndwr 1403-1457.

Renovated and remodelled by the Dukes of Buckingham 1424-1457. 

Acquired by Newport Corporation & Lord Tredegar 1891-1900.

Transferred into State Care 1930.

 Looking towards the TOWN CENTRE

from opposite Newport College of Art.

 

Several entrances are located around the back of the College in St.Vincent Road.

The Art College's cafe in St.Vincent Road is now a Chinese restaurant known as JUMBO HOUSE.

 

The UNCUT magazine editor, Allan Jones began to write for Melody Maker shortly after leaving Newport College of Art and, in a July 1975 feature about the 101'ers, he fondly recalled The Vultures thus :

" an erratic but occasionally stunning formation that played a handful of gigs before sinking without trace."

 
 Some of Joe's Newport friends had already completed their courses and moved on. Most of the remainder were due to leave in the summer of 1974. That May, he came to the conclusion it was time to return to London.
 

The Vultures played mostly at the Student Union building on Stow Hill but after six Students' Union gigs Joe returned to London to start The 101'ers.

 

click here for next page - May 1974