THE story of how a Mississippi musician came to be taken to the heart of Winchester’s artistic community is an inspiring one. John Murry first came to the area performing murder ballads as a duo with Bob Frank in Southampton in 2007. It was not an auspicious initial visit, as he was then in the throes of a debilitating heroin addiction and had to be prevented by audience members from strangling the sound engineer at the Talking Heads. Nevertheless, he struck up an unlikely friendship with Winchester music promoter Oliver Gray, which has endured to this day.

Hailing originally from Tupelo, Mississippi, birthplace of Elvis Presley, Murry was in Oakland, California when his heart stopped after an overdose, inspiring the acclaimed 2012 post-addiction album The Graceless Age.

In a career that has endured more downs than ups, Murry found himself earlier this year in the UK album charts with his newest LP, The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes. Even more astonishing was then being featured proposing to his girlfriend in an interview with the Guardian which stretched across two full pages.

Bizarrely, the success of the entire album project came about largely as a result of his relationship with the city of Winchester, and specifically with its iconic music venue the Railway Inn, which was where he met almost everyone involved in its production. John explains: “The shows I’ve played there have launched new musical beginnings, given me real insight into possibilities, new directions and new records. I have met amazing people for the first time at the Railway: my producer and friend John Parish, Felix, my label boss and friend, my backing vocalist Nadine Khouri, and Tali Trow, a true musical compatriot. It’s a special place and precious to me in so many ways.”

John, now living in Brighton and “clean” for many years, returns to Winchester on November 20 as part of the tour to launch the new album.

His feelings for the area are deep and sincere: “I love Winchester (and Hampshire in general) for vaguely spiritual and familial reasons. The people I see there are not fans, they’re friends and family.

“Since 2007, I’ve played at the Railway more than any other venue in the world, and it’s always like going home. There are some truly brilliant people there, whose lives I feel I’m a part of, just as they are a huge part of mine and have a strong influence on the music I make. I love the Railway and I love Winchester, because I know that we are all working towards a common goal and are all in it together.”