John Henry Burke, prison warden at the Ohio State Penitentiary from 1959 to 1977, believed music was the key to help his prisoners reform and rehabilitate. Burke allowed prisoners to keep radios and turntables in their cells, as well as make musical instruments in the workshop. Every year Burke would open the doors of his prison to welcome in families to watch their loved ones perform songs they had written on instruments they had made.
However in 1967, incarcerated arsonist Wilbur Reams started a prison riot by playing blistering guitar licks through a distorted amplifier. Burke reacted by putting a ban on what notes the prisoner could play, saying; “Anything north of the 12th fret of a guitar is looking for trouble. We’re just gonna stick to simple blues and country.” Burke continued to battle with Reams’ over his incendiary guitar playing until May 3rd, 1973, when Reams suddenly escaped via the prisons’ sewer system. In a cruel ironic twist, Reams had dug his way to freedom using tools stolen from the very workshop that Burke had set up to put his prisoners on the path to redemption.
(That's the story we're telling at Joe Doe Guitars...)