PUNK rock legend Joe Strummer, who spent time in Newport during the early 1970s, would have turned 70 on August 21.

And to commemorate this an exhibition with a special twist is being held in the city.

Strummer, when he was 20 and calling himself Woody, arrived in Newport in 1972 having dropped out of art school in London and deciding that being a cartoonist was not his future.

Committing himself to becoming a rock and roller, he’d given himself a year to “get s**t hot on the guitar”. He’d arrived with a guitar and lacking in confidence, having only been able to only play a couple of uncomplicated songs - including Johnny B Goode - learned to earn a few bob while busking in the London Underground.

By the time he left Newport he was full of confidence on the stage. He’d fully mastered the guitar and had played live with a band, The Vultures. He had achieved what he’s set out to do in 1972.

Arriving as Woody, he left town in April 1974 as the nascent Joe Strummer.

While in Newport he had a job as a gravedigger at St Woolos Cemetery and was photographed leaning on a shovel one day while at work.

South Wales Argus: Joe Strummer, who was then known as Woody, at St Woolos Cemetery in the 1970s

This now iconic photograph inspired Richard Frame, who was a student at the art college and also lived in the same run-down house as Strummer behind the railway station, to team up with photographer Ian Agland to take a series of photographs recreating the image, but with musicians associated with Newport over the last 50 years.

The photographs are set to go on display 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. At that time it was the Student Union.

The exhibition will be open to the public for one week from Sunday, August 21.

During the time Strummer was in town, art student Nigel Talbot met his future wife in the Student Union, which resulted in a son, Joe, who now fronts Idles.

South Wales Argus: Student Union dance. 1972. Picture: Terry Evans

Dancing at the Student Union in 1972. Picture: Terry Evans

Allan Jones, former editor of Melody Maker and Uncut, shared a studio in the art college with Micky Foote, producer of The Clash’s first album. It was Mr Jones' little piece in Melody Maker which gave Strummer's first band in London, The 101ers, a leg up.

And Linda Keith, former girlfriend of Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards, who also discovered Jimi Hendrix, was studying photography in the college at the same time.

The exhibition will feature photographs of:

  • Alan Jones, Amen Corner;
  • Lyndon Needs, Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers;

South Wales Argus: Crazy Cavan and the rhythm Rockers at the Students Union. 1973. Picture: Richard Frame

Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers at the Students Union in 1973. Picture: Richard Frame

  • 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;

South Wales Argus: Andrea Lewis. Darling Buds. Picture: Ian Agland

Andrea Lewis, Darling Buds. Picture: Ian Agland

  • 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.