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Music Mix Q&A: Henry Rollins on 'West of Memphis' soundtrack and what's next for the West Memphis Three

Back in 1994, three teenagers were convicted for the murder of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. The three young men—Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin—were railroaded from start to finish, and the case against them was built on the idea that the children were killed as part of a satanic ritual conducted by the trio, who were also quiet kids who listened to heavy metal.

They became known as the West Memphis Three, and the quest to free them became a cause celebre that attracted the attention of stars like Johnny Depp, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, and former Black Flag and Rollins Band frontman Henry Rollins, who regularly hosted benefit shows and put out a curated an album of Black Flag covers to raise funds for the West Memphis Three’s appeals. The story has been well told in the documentary series Paradise Lost, as well as in the just-released documentary West of Memphis, which shifts its focus to the process that led to the Alford pleas that allowed the West Memphis Three to go free after 18 years.

With so many musicians invested in the West Memphis Three, it’s no surprise that the soundtrack to West of Memphis—which just hit store shelves yesterday—has a pretty tremendous lineup, including Vedder, Depp, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Natalie Maines, and Rollins. EW spoke with Rollins recently about the film, the soundtrack, and the ongoing saga of the West Memphis Three.

EW: Considering how long this process has been and the stakes involved, is it a little surreal to be talking about the West Memphis Three in terms of the subject of a film soundtrack? 
Rollins: I never thought we’d be having this conversation—the soundtrack, the movie, all of that. There were a lot of dark months, even dark years. You burn so many emotional calories thinking about these guys in cages. Then the thing goes to the judge, the thing you’ve been working on for 15 months, and the judge just goes “Nah.” And you’re back at the bottom of the hill, covered in mud, with no tools. So you have to go back and get the tools again. This would be for three years at a time. The entire thing became abstract. The trippiest thing is now me hanging with Damien in New York at a packed theater with a bunch of people clapping. It borders on the surreal.

And even though they are no longer in jail, the story still isn’t over.
Right. The thing that a lot of people do forget is that three beautiful little boys were killed. There are parents who are still gutted that their babies are dead. What parent gets over it? So someone did that—not Damien, Jesse or Jason, but someone. And they need to answer for that. These people need any resolution that can be afforded, and the West Memphis Three need exoneration. They did not do anything, and not only do they deserve to get out of prison, but the rest of the world needs to go, “OK, they really did get the guy.” READ FULL STORY

Rolling Stones join Hurricane Sandy benefit concert

Image Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage

It’s official: the 12-12-12 concert at Madison Square Garden is the most rockin’ relief effort since Live Aid.

The Rolling Stones announced on Twitter that they’ll be performing at the event on Dec. 12, adding their names to an already-stacked lineup that includes Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, and Roger Waters. And The Who. And Paul McCartney. And Kanye.

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Eddie Vedder to host new show on SiriusXM -- EXCLUSIVE

Image Credit: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Image Credit: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

The thoughts may arrive like butterflies, but what about the records?

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder is slated to host a new, limited-run show on SiriusXM in which he’ll spin his favorite discs and discuss the groups he looks to for inspiration. He’ll also be dishing out stories from his long, lauded career in music. READ FULL STORY

Bon Jovi, Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl confirmed for Hurricane Sandy benefit

The list of performers donating their time and effort to the 12-12-12 benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy keeps getting bigger.

The high-profile event, organized by Clear Channel and set for Dec. 12 at Madison Square Garden, already boasted the likes of Paul McCartney and Kanye West. Now they’ve officially confirmed the addition of Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, and the full Bon Jovi roster. (Jon Bon Jovi himself had already been slated, but now the New Jersey native will have his band with him.) READ FULL STORY

Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, No Doubt come together for EB charity auction

Eddie-Vedder.jpg

Want to help out a good cause and score some cool rock and roll swag? Then you should check out the auction currently being held to raise funds for Heal EB, an organization that raises funds and awareness for the rare skin disorder Epidermolysis Bullosa, a painful, often debilitating and even life-threatening disease that causes severe blistering with only the most minor contact.

Jill Vedder, wife of Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, is on the board of Heal EB, and she helped bring together a pretty cool collection items available for bid (most of which expire later today). Included in the collection are a ukulele signed by Vedder, an official Foo Fighters motorcycle jacket, an autographed No Doubt poster, and a collection of Heart memorabilia.

The full list of auction items is here. There was also a live auction last week, and Vedder showed up as a special guest to play some songs and meet some kids afflicted with EB. (Vedder has been everywhere lately, having played Neil Young’s annual Bridge School benefit concert last weekend, dropped in on Kings of Leon for a jam earlier in the month, and also found time to raise $1.7 million for the Obama campaign along the way.

If you’re a sports fan, there’s also a healthy collection of those items up for grabs too, including jerseys signed by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, and baseballs signed by the likes of Bob Gibson, Andre Dawson, Roberto Alomar, Gaylord Perry, Lou Brock, and A.J. Burnett. And for the foot fetishists in the building, Gisele Bundchen also signed a pair of heels she wore at the Met Ball.

Read More on EW.com:
Eddie Vedder finds Romney’s comments ‘very upsetting’
Cameron Crowe on His Pearl Jam Obsession
Johnny Depp, Peter Jackson, and Eddie Vedder gave millions to help free the West Memphis Three, says ‘Paradise Lost’ director — EXCLUSIVE

Eddie Vedder finds Romney's comments 'very upsetting'

A lot of people took umbrage at Mitt Romney’s recently leaked comments, and Eddie Vedder is one of them.

“It’s very upsetting to hear a presidential candidate be so easily dismissive of such a ginormous amount of the population,” the Pearl Jam frontman said at a fundraiser for the president in Tampa yesterday. Vedder went on to tell the Obama donors that were Romney elected president, “none of those 47 percent of people would have a voice.”

And he has reason to be upset, too: the singer was once a 47%er himself. Vedder recalled the government training program that helped prepare him for his massively successful career as… a security guard.

Well, kind of — it was that gig that funded his artistic ambitions. “It was that job that allowed me to also afford the guitars and tape recorder and microphones I needed to let me afford keep working on music,” Vedder said. “It was also the job I reluctantly left to move up to Seattle for less pay, in order to join a band. It all worked out.”

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