Alcatraz EP

  • SCCD01



    1. Dear Warden

    2. Birdman

    3. Lie To You

    4. Murder

    5. The Ballad of John GIles

  • Five original songs inspired by Alcatraz and some of its infamous guests.
    Defiant, prison outlaw ballads wave the flag in this collection about faith, repentance and the indelible human spirit.


    This EP sees Franc Cinelli going back to a distinctive back to basics style of song writing and record making drawing on influences from the likes of Ry Cooder and Mississippi John Hurt giving the record a sense of haunting folklore. 


    “I read about John Giles in a book my brother brought back from a visit to Alcatraz when I was a kid, his story captured me instantly. I was taken by his tenacity and sheer sense of fight even when he was completely on the ropes. It inspired me. I’m not judging what got him there in the first place, but I can learn a lot from how he dealt when he was inside. “John Giles” was the first character song I wrote and it opened up a whole new world of song writing for me, starting with the Alcatraz EP”


    "A man with a long time, he's got only one thought-he wants to escape, needs to escape. You think it's the end of your life. You don't want to die in prison. You have that obsession. That's all you think about. It fills your waking hours from morning to night." -John Giles


    On July 31, 1945 John Giles had already served 10 of his 25-year sentence at Alcatraz Prison for the postal robbery of the Denver and Rio Grande mail train. This was not his first sentence. Dates are unclear but he had previously been serving a life sentence for MURDER in Oregon, but had managed to escape. Now a WANTED MAN his 25 year sentence for the train robbery at McNeil Island in Puget Sound, western Washington had been transferred to Alcatraz Prison home to the worst-of-the-worst of American criminals because of the seriousness of his crimes and his history of prison breaks. It took John Giles eight years to collect a full Technical Seargant’s uniform whilst working at Alcatraz’s loading dock. His job was to unload army laundry that arrived on the General Frank M. Coxe steam ferry, routinely stopping on The Rock between the nearby Fort Mason Army post & the military fort on Angel Island. At around 10am on the morning of July 31, Giles found the opportune moment to take off his prison clothes to reveal the army officer’s uniform he had concealed underneath. Even down to the dog tags, Giles thought he had left nothing to chance and together with some forged documents he boarded the ferry leaving Alcatraz bound for Angel Island as an army officer. It must not have taken the officials long to put two and two together when the head count aboard the launch was irregular by one, and numbers on “America’s Devil Island” was shy, by one. Whilst on board the General Frank, Giles was unaware Assistant Warden Miller was already on his trail and spoke freely to the other army passengers saying he was a “lineman on the cable”. Upon disembarking, officer of the day on Angel Island Lieutenant Gordon L. Kilgore, questioned Giles after noticing his incorrect uniform and sealed Giles’ fate after inspecting his amateur document forgeries. Although this ultimately would have had little bearing on Giles’ future as while Lieutenant Kilgore was questioning him, Alcatraz’s assistant warden Miller was on a speed boat racing towards Angel Island to bring him right back to the Rock. Giles’ valiant escape attempt cost him five more years on the island. If not for that unscheduled head count Giles might well have met freedom at long last.