Prison walls have been written about in many forms for centuries. On this CD, the title track “Forty Foot High” is exactly that. The lyrics, written by RICK SIKES while incarcerated, were found almost five years after his passing. They had no music with them and JAMIE RICHARDS graciously accepted the task of adding it, then recording the song.
The remaining tracks were all recorded within the walls of Leavenworth Penitentiary. In an effort to convince the warden of the need for a recording studio, RICK SIKES specifically wrote “From The Bottle To The Needle” to perform privately for him. Permission was granted, with no funding provided. Convicts, being very resourceful, gathered and used bits and pieces of broken and discarded equipment to build a crude mixing board and four track recorder. They spent countless hours gluing empty egg cartons on the concrete walls and hustled discarded carpeting and heavy curtains to make sound buffers. Add detailed artwork and a studio was born. Later on, through the efforts of Steam Train Maury Graham (King of the Hobos and personal friend of RICK SIKES), a truckload of scratched and dented equipment arrived as a donation to the project from Peavey Corporation.
You won’t hear RICK SIKES’ rich baritone voice on every track on the CD as he was the only one who knew how to run the equipment. Even though he wrote every song, Thomas “Red” Jenkins sang most of the tracks so that Rick could record them. This is a piece of American history preserved in song!