LONDON (Reuters) - Former members of The Clash, Mick Jones and Nicky “Topper” Headon, have recorded together for the first time in almost 30 years by reworking a version of the punk rock band’s 1978 song “Jail Guitar Doors.”
The pair teamed up with folk activist Billy Bragg in the studio to promote the singer’s campaign to help rehabilitate prison inmates.
Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors initiative, named after the song, supplies musical instruments to prisoners. Several inmates have gone on to pursue careers as performers since the scheme started two years ago.
“The guys were telling us how much this scheme had helped them move on from their previous lives before prison,” Jones said in a statement.
“It was really touching to think we’ve helped, even if it’s in a small way.”
Headon said: “When I was in prison myself, many years ago, I was lucky enough to have access to a guitar, which belonged to the prison vicar! I know how much it helped me get through it.”
Bragg, who was inspired to become an artist after seeing The Clash play live at a Rock Against Racism gig at Victoria Park in east London in 1978, said there had to be much more to prison than simply locking people up.
“We want people to be able to move on from their situation and reconnect with the outside world, and my hunch was that playing an instrument — particularly a guitar — could help that.”
Jones and Headon last recorded together on the Clash’s fifth album “Combat Rock” released in 1982, though Headon briefly appeared on stage with Jones’ band Carbon Silicon in London early last year.
Headon was sacked from The Clash because of his addiction to heroin — an addiction he has fought ever since.
Jones, who co-fronted The Clash with Joe Strummer who died in 2002, was kicked out a year later, leaving the group — best known for their 1979 classic “London Calling” — to limp on before finally disbanding in 1986.
The recording session was filmed for a documentary about the prisoners’ aid scheme called “Breaking Rocks,” which will be premiered as part of the Raindance film festival at the Proud Gallery in Camden Town, London, on October 1.
The film will be followed by performances from Bragg, Jones, the MC5s’ Wayne Kramer and Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters amongst others.
Editing by Steve Addison