what it is all about

Jail Guitar Doors is an independent initiative which aims to provide instruments to those who are using music as a means of achieving the rehabilitation of prison inmates. Founded by Billy Bragg, it takes its name from the b-side of the Clash’s 1978 single ‘Clash City Rockers’. Billy writes:

"In early 2007, I was looking to do something positive to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Joe Strummer when I received a request from a local jail. Malcolm Dudley, a drug and alcohol counsellor at nearby Guys Marsh prison in Dorset, was utilising his skills as a musician to set up a guitar class as a means of engaging prisoners in the process of rehabilitation. Borrowing a guitar from the prison chaplain and repairing an old nylon-strung instrument found in a prison cupboard, Malcolm began to make progress with the inmates. However, he soon became aware that their development was being held back by the lack of available instruments on which to practise between sessions. He wrote to me asking for help.

I immediately grasped the potential of Malcolm’s work, knowing from my own experience how playing guitar and writing songs can help an individual to process problems in a non-confrontational way. I bought half a dozen acoustic guitars and, just as Joe Strummer had painted slogans on his guitar, had them spray-painted with the titles of Clash songs – ‘Clash City Rocker’, ‘Stay Free’ and, of course, ‘Jail Guitar Doors’.

Having delivered the guitars and heard from the inmates themselves about the positive effects of the work that Malcolm was doing, I wondered if there might be other people like Malcolm in prisons across the country, willing and able to do the work, but held back by a lack of instruments. At the NME Awards in March 2007, I announced the formation of Jail Guitar Doors to find such people and meet that need. I am pleased to say that the first person in the room to walk up to me with an offer of support was Clash guitarist Mick Jones. 

Since then, Jail Guitar Doors has donated instruments to more than 20 prisons. Sponsorship from Gibson Musical Instruments has allowed us to extend our reach beyond the UK. 

The average cost per prison is less than £500, an amount which could be raised at a benefit concert by any band or artist that can draw a crowd. I’m asking musicians, particularly those of you who were inspired by the Clash, to raise funds to help inmates take the first steps towards rehabilitation. If you’d like to participate in this initiative, please contact me here.

Stay free."

Billy Bragg

©Billy Bragg 2007-2009
Design: Marc Woodhouse. Construction: TwoBrownGirls.com
Latest site additions

Jul 2010 tour dates announced
7th May 2010

East End Film Festival 2010 News
15th April 2010

Tickets for Sundays JGD gig still available
26th February 2010

Official Jail Guitar Doors on Facebook
19th February 2010

Feb 2010 tour dates announced
15th January 2010

Singer Tom McRae talks about Jail guitar Doors
16th December 2009

"The last night London burned" Joe Strummer celebration gig 22 Dec 09
16th December 2009

"Breaking Rocks" Screenings & Gigs Dec 09
27th November 2009

"Breaking Rocks" documentary UK tour 2010
13th November 2009

Tanglewood Guitars support Jail Guitar Doors
13th November 2009

"Breaking Rocks" screening & Q&A at Shortwave Cinema CANCELLED
13th November 2009

Prince Charles screening & Q&A pics now in gallery
13th November 2009

JGD Store is now live
2nd November 2009

Check out our new Gallery
14th October 2009

Breaking Rocks Premiere Review
6th October 2009

Breaking Rocks World Premiere & Concert ***Ticket News***
29th September 2009

Clash members reunite for Jail Guitar Doors
16th September 2009

"Breaking Rocks" screening & Q&A at The Prince Charles Cinema 28th Oct 09
4th September 2009

"Breaking Rocks" World Premiere at Raindance Film Festival 1st Oct 09
4th September 2009

Jail Guitar Doors documentary "Breaking Rocks"
4th September 2009

South London Strummer tribute
24th February 2009

Redemption Songs
23rd February 2009

Free JGD gig in London 1 March
23rd February 2009

Malcolm Dudley RIP
29th December 2008

Dirty Pretty Things benefit JGD
11th December 2008

Gibson hosts screening
27th November 2008

Theone wins award
26th November 2008

The friends of
Mark Ellis

22nd September 2008

Hit the North!
21st September 2008

Stroll on!
18th June 2008

Autograph raises 200
6th May 2008

Blood, sweat and beers
2nd May 2008

Walton jail in City of Culture
11th April 2008

Epiphone on board
3rd April 2008

Sound of music to prisons
12th January 2008

A dozen prisons in our first year
1st January 2008

Let The People Decide
30th December 2007

Ending our first year in Styal
14th December 2007

Eastroad helps out Stocken
1st December 2007

Bragg and Jones rock Pentonville
29th November 2007

Brixton gig to mark Joe anniversary
28th November 2007

Let The People Decide
26th November 2007

Arms Aloft raises cash
15th November 2007

Music in The Verne
11th October 2007

£3,500 from Labour Conference
24th September 2007

Classical fund-raiser
23rd September 2007

Phill Jupitus donates fee
10th September 2007

Inmates to repair guitars
8th September 2007

Recycled guitars at ‘Wanno’
6th September 2007

Johnny Clash singleBilly releases ‘Old Clash Fan Fight Song’
16th August 2007

Jail Guitar Doors goes stateside
8th August 2007

First delivery to women’s prison
30th July 2007

Guitars delivered to Shepton Mallet
24th July 2007