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Music

Pete Doherty planning to sign Glasgow prisoner to his record label

@SamWKemp

Back in 2019, Pete Doherty told Channel 4 that Brexit would likely lead to an incredible surge in creativity, comparing songwriting in the age of EU separation to “writing a poem in prison”. Three years later, Doherty has seen that sentiment through to its logical conclusion, revealing plans to sign a prisoner he met at a Glasgow jail to his record label.

The Libertines frontman was introduced to the prisoner via a project in which he was asked to perform songs for inmates during life-drawing classes. Doherty sat and played the guitar while the prisoners drew him. Doherty spoke to Radio 6 Music’s Craig Charles about the experience, revealing: “It was nice, actually, to keep my clothes on. Because when they first said, ‘you’re going to do a still life at Barlinnie Prison for the still life class’, obviously the first thing you think of is a nude model.”

Luckily for Doherty, that wasn’t the kind of project Barlinnie Prison had in mind: “So I went there with a bit of trepidation, thinking, ‘well, I’m not going to be able to say no because I’ll just look like I’m bricking it’. But they wanted me fully clothed so that was a huge relief.”

Doherty went on to recall meeting one particular prisoner who played him a selection of songs. The Libertines frontman was so impressed that he agreed to sign him to his label. “They’re an amazing bunch of lads from right across the board,” he said. “Obviously all stuck in Barlinnie for one reason or another. But at one point, one of the lads took me aside and said, ‘Pete, I’ve been playing guitar a bit since I’ve been in…I’ve taught myself how to play and I’ve written a few songs’”.

Initially, the prisoner wasn’t keen on performing in front of the guards: “I said ‘Oh alright…’. So, I said ‘Go on, give us a few songs then’…And he went ‘No, I’m not doing it in front of the screws and that!’ And I said ‘Now, come on! So he took the guitar and I took the pad and the pencil. We swapped places and he started bashing out all these lovelorn ballads. Like, really uplifting, melodic songs…And you should have seen the jaws drop.”

Doherty continued: “Not just from the other prisoners but from all the officers. They couldn’t believe it. They didn’t even know that he could sing or play. He’d just been teaching himself in some back-room in the gym with an old guitar.” Doherty went on to joke that he has to sign the inmate now because, as he told Crag Charles, I promised him I would now and I don’t want to get on his bad side. Do you know what I mean? He’s a tasty geezer.”