Jelly Roll says his felonies prevent him from booking gigs overseas

Country star once served over a year in prison after being charged with aggravated assault and possession with intent to sell

Jelly Roll revealed that his criminal record has prevented him from performing outside the United States.

During a conversation with Jon Bon Jovi for Interview magazine, the 62-year-old rock icon praised the 39-year-old country star's "unique sound" and asked if he had "taken it overseas."

"Not yet," Jelly Roll told Bon Jovi. "I’m so excited. We’re figuring out the final pieces of some legal puzzles for me to get overseas."


jelly roll looking sober while posing for a photo

Jelly Roll revealed that he is currently struggling to perform internationally due to his felonies. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

He continued, "It’s funny, America has finally agreed to let me leave and give me a passport, but some countries won’t let me come because of my felonies. We’re working on that. I think it’s going to work in my favor."

Bon Jovi expressed his hope that the two-time Grammy Award nominee would be able to tour internationally and criticized the rules that some countries have against allowing people with criminal records to cross their borders as "archaic."

"Entertainers should be able to go and do their job," The "Wanted Dead or Alive" hitmaker said.

However, Jelly Roll pointed out, "For the record, I’m a kid from Antioch, Tennessee, whose father never left the southeastern region until he was in his 50s."

"I still have friends in Antioch who have never left," he added with a laugh. "They’ve never seen a football game downtown — just watch the Titans on TV every Sunday. I’m like, ‘You know the stadium is 18 minutes away, right? We can get a ticket for $10.’"

Jelly Roll on stage

The country star said that he was finally able to get a passport. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

"They probably got it right though," Bon Jovi said. "They’re like, 'I've got a big-screen TV, I don’t need to find parking.'"

"I’ve got air conditioning, there’s not 70,000 people breathing on me, a hot dog isn’t 15 dollars," Jelly Roll agreed. 

"Maybe I’m the dumba--," he joked.


The "Save Me" singer  has been transparent about his past legal troubles and battle with addiction. During a 2023 interview with Billboard, Jelly Roll, whose full name is Jason Bradley DeFord, told the outlet that he was arrested when he was 16 and charged as an adult with aggravated robbery and possession with intent to sell. 

Jelly Roll served over a year in prison and seven years of probation. Due to the felony, the rapper lost the right to vote and own firearms. 

Jelly Roll posing for the camera

Jelly Roll served a year and a half in prison after being convicted for aggravated robbery and possession with intent to sell. (Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty Images)

"I never want to overlook the fact that it was a heinous crime," Jelly Roll told Billboard. 


He continued,"This is a grown man looking back at a 16-year-old kid that made the worst decision that he could have made in life and people could have got hurt and, by the grace of God, thankfully, nobody did."

According to People magazine, Jelly Roll's first arrest came at the age of 14. The singer was jailed more than 40 times before breaking the cycle of incarceration and overcoming his addiction struggles. 

jelly roll at the cmt awards

Since overcoming his troubled past, Jelly Roll has become one of country music's rising stars. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images)

Jelly Roll made his career breakthrough in 2020 with his hit song "Save Me" and he has since risen to the top of the country music scene.

During an interview with Fox News Digital, Jelly Roll shared that his troubled past and his ability to overcome it had a lasting impact on him.

"I wouldn't be the man I am today if it wasn't for what I went through. I think it empowered me. I think it gave me my voice," he said at the 2023 CMAs. "It taught me a lot about overcoming. It taught me a lot about changing and the ability to change. 

He continued, "I was a horrible human for decades, and to just be able to turn that around and give a message in the music and help people… and just try to give back as much as I can in every way I can is very indicative of where I came from and how important it is to me to always reach back."

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