IN 1977 Huddersfield punk band The Prisoners formed and took the local scene by storm.

That same year the Sex Pistols played their last ever UK gig - on Christmas Day at Ivanhoes in Huddersfield.

Now, 30 years on, The Prisoners have revived their fame - despite band members being separated by the Atlantic Ocean!

After making contact for the first time in over 25 years, The Prisoners spent 2006 recording an album, playing concerts in the States and UK and even performing live on air.

The Prisoners' story began in Huddersfield in 1977.

Guitarist Chris 'Mark' Lawton said: "It's been a magical experience."

Mark, along with bassist and singer Chris Ellis and drummer Gary 'Horace' Westwell, started the band.

Chris and Mark had known each other since they were five-year-old schoolfriends in Almondbury.

At high school they met Horace and by the time they were all 17 they decided to form a band.

They found singer Paul 'Poss' Strickland through the local music scene.

The band performed on TV and for radio at the height of their success.

They put out a record, entitled Release, which was self-funded.

But in 1979 they went their separate ways.

Mark said: "We were never signed to a label; we did it all ourselves. We'd had some success, but it just didn't seem to be going anywhere."

Mark moved to America after the company he had been with for 20 years offered him a position in the east coast state of Maine.

He and his family moved there in 1996.

After his daughter Kerry, 25, graduated from high school the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

Mark now works as a business troubleshooter.

Chris Ellis stayed in Huddersfield and teaches music technology on an outreach basis for Huddersfield Technical College.

Paul also stayed in Huddersfield and became a psychiatric nurse.

As their busy lives took over the band members lost touch and did not speak for over 20 years.

Their reunion is all thanks to an article in the Examiner.

In September, 2005, we featured a photo of the band from our archives and asked our readers: 'Where are they now?'

Chris Ellis responded and said he was keen to get in touch with his former bandmates.

By chance, Mark's wife was visiting relatives in Huddersfield and saw the article.

In October that year the band members spoke for the first time in over two decades.

Mark said: "It took us all by surprise. My wife was in England when it came out and she called me and said: 'Hey, you're in the newspaper!'

"When Paul called me about the article I really didn't want to do anything about it because it would be logistically hard.

"I didn't want to have my good memories ruined, but my wife convinced me to do it. She said I'd be with friends and it would be fun. As usual, she was right."

In January, 2006, the band reunited in Huddersfield and played together for the first time in 25 years.

They decided to re-record the songs from their album, Release, for a new record, called Re-Released.

They completed the first five tracks at their initial meeting.

Mark said: "We wrote all the songs around 1978. The CD has a 1970s feel, but with a modern edge. The songs really stood up well. They could have been written last week."

Unfortunately, the band had to part company with Horace.

The hard work of drumming was causing problems for his damaged knees.

Mark said: "It was a shame to see Horace go. We are all very close friends. But we said that if we were going to do this we would have to give it 100%."

The band were on the lookout for a new drummer when they met Josef 'Seppi' Pogadl while they were at rehearsal rooms in Huddersfield.

Seppi, from Stuttgart, had played with a band in Germany but had just moved to Huddersfield.

The computer programmer was rehearsing alone when The Prisoners approached him.

With Mark living in the States the process of recording could have proved a stumbling block. But The Prisoners weren't going to let a few thousand miles of ocean stop them.

They each recorded ideas in their home studios and send them via the internet to each other.

So when they got together, recording was quick and easy.

This meant that by June last year The Prisoners had completed recording for Re-Released - and they already had 3,000 advanced orders!

In July they recorded a web showcase for HD1 Studios in Huddersfield which received 265 hits a week.

In September they recorded two tracks for a London company's compilation album.

The Prisoners performed in the USA in October and at an Atlanta gig with fellow 70s punk group The Vibrators.

This was followed by a live concert for an Atlanta radio station.

So have The Prisoners had enough?

It seems not. They are busy writing new material.

Mark said: "It's been hard work to get the CD out. We only did it for ourselves, but we've had responses from all over the world."

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