He’s not the only musician to have had an extended stay in the bars without draught beer, jukeboxes and a Sunday meat raffle. Although they do, of course, have a lock-in. From Leadbelly onwards, some dudes have had a bad habit of getting in trouble. Like Boy George, Hugh Cornwell, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ike Turner and Pete Doherty. Take Vince Everett for instance, an ex-con who made it as a singer. They made a film about his story.
Enough of frivolity. The greatest jailbird in music must be Huddie Leadbetter aka Leadbelly. Jailed four times, once for murder, another for attempted murder, he escaped from his first stretch by outrunning sniffer dogs and was pardoned from another by singing a plea to the hard-nosed governor. I could talk about Leadbelly all day, his huge repertoire and even bigger influence on a whole bunch of folk who have made great music in his wake ~Woody Guthrie, Dylan, The Animals, The Kinks, Led Zep, Creedence, Beck, Billy Childish, White Stripes, British Sea Power etc. This traditional field song was covered by Abba would you believe?
Johnny Cash ~ Although the man in black, despite his hard-man image and wild lifestyle, never served a prison term, he did go inside to record two classic albums: Live at both Folsom Prison and San Quentin. He also campaigned for prison reform, lobbying senate and the White House.
Care of Cell 44 ~ My favourite prison song, written by Rod Argent, the opener on the Zombies Odessey and Oracle, this is Elliott Smith’s version.
My joint-first favourite prison song is Dave Davies’ Lincoln County recorded by The Kinks in 1968.
Jailbreak: Thin Lizzy ~ The (almost) acceptable face of metal. I was thinking about poor old Phil Lynott the other day. He’s been gone 23 years now.
Hey, I’ve just discovered my first UK-banned YouTube clip. We’re not allowed to see The Clash’s Bankrobber. Fucking cheek. The Clash belong to us. It seems not. Joe must be turning. Let’s have this instead then. I guess we can expect the plug to be pulled in due course.
Well, that’s all folks until Phil gets sent down. Am I allowed to say that? Perhaps he didn’t do it after all…