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Watch Patti Smith, Eddie Vedder and Johnny Depp perform ‘Dancing Barefoot’

On August 28th, 2010, actor-musician Johnny Depp and Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder joined Patti Smith on stage at the Voices for Justice rally in Little Rock, Arkansas. Watch the emphatic performance of ‘Dancing Barefoot’ below. 

The rally was organised to promote the bid for the freedom of the so-called ‘West Memphis Three’. In 1994, the West Memphis Three were convicted of murdering three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. Damien Echols was sentenced to death, Jessie Misskelley Jr to life imprisonment plus two 20-year sentences, and Jason Baldwin to life imprisonment. The trial dictated that the three young men had murdered the innocent children as part of a Satanic ritual. 

Due to the frailty of the evidence brought to trial and a suspected presence of emotional bias in court, the case created widespread controversy and received heavy media coverage. Over the subsequent two decades, numerous celebrities came forth to appeal for the release of the West Memphis Three and were met with little reaction from the obstinate court in Arkansas. 

In 2007, however, new forensic evidence was presented to the court. A report from the state and the defence team at the time stated, “Although most of the genetic material recovered from the scene was attributable to the victims of the offences, some of it cannot be attributed to either the victims or the defendants.”

By 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court had officially recognised the newly produced DNA evidence and the potential for juror misconduct and they opened a dialogue for the West Memphis Three to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. It was at around this time when Smith, Depp and Vedder took to the stage at the Voices for Justice rally.

On August 19th, 2011, the convicts entered Alford pleas, whereby they were allowed to plead not guilty but had to acknowledge that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them. Judge David Laser accepted the pleas and sentenced the three to the time served. The three were released with 10-year suspended sentences, having served 18 years.

To this day, the person or people responsible for the murders of the three children haven’t been found. 

Watch Patti Smith, Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder perform Smith’s ‘Dancing Barefoot’ in support of the West Memphis Three below.