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People Top 5
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- April 25, 1977
- Vol. 7
- No. 16
Sonny James's One-gig Group Cut 'in the Jailhouse Now'—and That's Where They Were
"It's not unusual for an artist to visit a prison," says James. (Or even do time, like Haggard and Fender.) "But it was to my knowledge the first time this kind of thing has been undertaken, and I've never enjoyed anything more." Christian service has long been part of James's life. He met his wife, Doris, at the Church of Christ (and was chosen to produce Marie Osmond's first three formative albums). Though the prison album titled Sonny James in Prison in Person will include Pistol Packin' Mama and a tune he composed for the occasion, Don't Let Me Die on Prison Land, the final cut, picked and chimed in on by all 850 inmates attending the session, was Amazing Grace.
As for the performance itself, James was deeply impressed by the musicianship of his band mates, but cautions: "We didn't strive for perfection. We didn't do it for the critics. It is, as they say, 'listenable,' though what makes this LP unique and pleasurable is that it's real. When we finished, we celebrated like we had played in the World Series."
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