The rocker gets behind the campaign to free a trio of men convicted for the 1993 murder of three children they deny committing...
HENRY ROLLINS is putting together a benefit concert in aid of the WEST MEMPHIS THREE, a trio of men convicted for the 1993 murder of three children they deny committing.
The show, to be held at the Los Angeles Troubador on March 8, will also feature sets from former MC5 man Wayne Kramer as well as veterans Original Sinners.
All proceeds will go towards the fight to overturn the convictions of the Memphis Three. The trio, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelly were convicted of the gruesome 1993 murders of three eight-year olds in West Memphis, Arkansas. Their convictions rested on the confession of Misskelly, a teen with an IQ of 72, which he later denied. Echols, Baldwin and Misskelly, then all fans of heavy metal, were held up as Satanists during the trial as prosecutors claimed the murders were ritualistic. Echols is currently on Death Row while Baldwin and Misskelly are serving life sentences.
Their case became a cause celebre in 1996 when a US documentary, ‘Paradise Lost’, called the convictions into serious doubt. The trio’s fight for freedom has since been adopted by a host of big name supporters.
Eddie Vedder has frequently spoken out on their behalf and worn a T-shirt supporting their cause at numerous Pearl Jam live shows. Late last year, Vedder, Tom Waits, former Clash man Joe Strummer, Steve Earle and ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan all donated tracks to ‘Free The Memphis Three’, an album released to raise funds for their legal battle.
Henry Rollins has released a statement explaining why he felt he needed to organised the benefit show.
It reads: “After watching the two documentaries, (‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Revelations: Paradise Lost 2’) which detail what happened to the victims (both dead and alive) my reaction was a mixture of sadness and anger: sadness at the death of the little boys and the unimaginable sense of hopelessness, heartbreak and frustration that fills their relatives on a regular basis. Then anger at what appears to be a made-for-television worst case scenario breakdown in the American justice system.
“What the West Memphis Three have been put through, and are going through, is an American nightmare of the highest order. I wanted to get involved.
“If this kind of insanity is allowed to happen in America, then no American is really safe. To do nothing is to submit to this horrific slander of truth and basically join in with the perpetrators.
“It’s simple for me. I don’t know who killed those three little boys. I just know it’s not the West Memphis Three. So, what can I do? Raise some money and hopefully some awareness. I don’t know what else I can do, if someone has an idea, let me know.
“Damien Echols faces lethal injection for a crime he didn’t commit. Jason and Jesse face life in prison. It might as well be you or me. After the benefit on March 8, I will get in my car and drive to my house. That, in itself, is kind of obscene seeing what these three are dealing with.”
For more information on the West Memphis Three case visit www.WM3.org.