Franc Cinelli is an Italian singer-songwriter living in London who fell under the spell of the inmates Alcatraz, the notorious Federal prison off the coast of San Francisco, CA. He became enamored with the outlaws after reading a book about murderer John Giles, who got close to freedom after tying to escape dressed in Technical Sergeant’s uniform, an outfit he had pieced together over an eight year period. The Ballad of John Giles became the first song he completed.
One thing led to another. He read more about the prison's history and decided to follow the murder ballads tradition like his musical heroes Ry Cooder and Mississippi John Hurt. Cinelli plays a mean slide guitar and his slightly nasal voice fits the subject matter perfectly.
Although the federal prison was closed in 1963 its legacy lives one and some of its inhabitants gained notoriety and were immortalized in feature films. Birdman outshines them all. It was the nickname of Robert Stroud, who was played by Burt Lancaster (the real guy wasn't allowed to keep any pets when he was transferred to Alcatraz, that's Hollywood for you). But fiction overtaking reality isn't a problem for an artist, who don't let the truth get in the way of a good story. And that's what Cinnelli does: five stories about murder, robbery and being locked up in a prison that continues to fascinate.
- Dear Warden
- Lie To You
- The Ballad of John Giles