WHEN Newport was the "new Seattle" (for a short while in the 1990s), there was one band at the forefront of the city's indie music scene - the 60ft Dolls.

And now, Richard J Parfitt, the man who fronted the band in the heady days of Novocaine, Flyscreen and Dub War and who later helped singing star Duffy to the top of the charts, is set to help a new generation of would-be rock stars in south Wales.

He is joining the University of South Wales this week as Senior Lecturer in Popular and Commercial Music.

Parfitt brings 25 years of experience in the industry to his new role in the Faculty of Creative Industries at the University’s Cardiff Campus. He will also be course leader for the new Masters course in Songwriting and Production.

During his time with the 60ft Dolls, Parfitt wrote three top 40 singles and a top 40 album.

The band was formed in Newport in 1992 by Richard J. Parfitt and Michael Cole, and pastor's son Carl Bevan became their drummer.

After support spots with Oasis, Elastica and Dinosaur Jr., 60ft Dolls released their second single "White Knuckle Ride" on Rough Trade Records and then "Pig Valentine" on Indolent Records.

Their early singles were championed by BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq, and were picked up by influential American DJ Rodney Bingenheimer of KROQ-FM.

That exposure in the USA led to them signing a deal with Geffen Records. The New York Times listed "Pig Valentine" among its 1996 singles of the year.

This was followed by their debut album, The Big 3, touring in the UK, Japan and Europe, and opening for The Sex Pistols at their 1996 Finsbury Park reunion gig.

The 60ft Dolls were included, with Catatonia and others, in a House of Commons Early Day Motion, extolling the virtues of Newport's rock and roll credentials.

They released their second album, Joya Magica, in late 1998 and split soon after.

The band recorded two sessions for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show, in 1996 and 1998, and appear in the top 125 Peel sessions of all time.

Pop singer Duffy credits Parfitt with "changing her life" and setting her on the road to fame after he hooked her up with manager Jeanette Lee.

Parfitt has sold over a million records in his career and has been presented with a platinum album.

He is studying for a PhD and has served as an advisor for the Welsh Cultural Olympiad, he has delivered songwriting masterclasses at numerous universities and, more recently, has directed the Masters in song writing at Bath Spa University.

As a professional songwriter, musician and manager, Parfitt has worked with artists such as Duffy and provided music for Universal Films. As a session musician, he has worked and played guitar for Dido, as well as Bernard Butler, Urge Overkill and Lene Marlin.

On his new role at USW, he said: “It’s exciting to be joining the university at this time when there are so many opportunities and great developments. Wales has a musical heritage that is the envy of the world, and the potential for the university to be known as a centre of excellence in popular music is a very real and stimulating prospect.”

Parfitt will be welcoming renowned music producer Greg Haver to the University’s Cardiff Campus on April 24, from 2.30pm to 4.30pm.

The free public lecture, entitled ‘An Insight into the Music Industry Today’, will see Haver talk about his career, which has included playing drums with Tom Jones on his multi platinum album Reload, and working alongside the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and the Super Furry Animals.

Reserve your place now here