Friends rally behind jailed rocker

Published 10:13 am Friday, July 13, 2012

FRANKLIN—Friends of a former Franklin man, who is the front man for a Richmond heavy metal group and jailed in the Czech Republic for a fan’s death, believe he is innocent.

Western Tidewater residents and friends of Randy Blythe, the front man for Richmond-based Lamb of God detained in a Czech Republic jail, said he is innocent and should be released. -- SUBMITTED

Randy Blythe, the lead singer for Lamb of God, was picked up in Prague two weeks ago in connection with the death from a show on May 24, 2010.

Franklin resident Scott Phillips, who was a year behind Blythe in school, has seen the video where Blythe allegedly fights with the fan, who got on stage. Phillips saw nothing in the video that implicates Blythe, 41, in the death.

“Looking at the video, Randy is not at fault for this guy’s death,” Phillips said. “The guy ran on stage three times; the second time Randy touched him because he ran behind him, and the third time he crawled up there, a security guard dragged him off stage and his head hit the floor.”

Phillips attended school with Blythe at S.P. Morton Elementary, Hayden Middle School and until about his sophomore year at Franklin High School in 1987. Blythe lived on Barrett Street.

Phillips and Blythe were in the band together. Blythe played the flute and Phillips, the trombone.

Blythe graduated from Western Branch High School in Chesapeake.

Phillips, 40, who works at Huntington Ingalls in Newport News and plays guitar for the rock group Land of Dust, said he would like to see the government help free his friend.

Blythe has not been charged, but was denied bond and the U.S. State Department had no comment, according to published reports.

Courtland resident Heidi Bunch, 38, also believes her friend is innocent. She said Blythe wouldn’t purposely harm another person.

“The person I knew in school couldn’t have changed that much,” said Bunch, owner of SoCo Cake. “He doesn’t have anything to do with this. I think it’s an unfortunate accident.”

Lamb of God released a statement on its Facebook page on July 6 stating the group believes Blythe is innocent and thanking everyone who has supported Randy.

“Randy is our brother and we assure you, we are all staying very positive for him, working endlessly behind the scenes to provide any and all assistance possible,” the band wrote. “We know that justice will prevail and we will continue to do our part to support our friend.”

The band has also set up a legal fund through Facebook.

There are also 9,391 signatures on a petition at seeking to bring attention to the situation.

Randy Blythe’s father, Wayne Blythe of Chesapeake, didn’t want to comment.