The Pioneer Hotel Fire - December 20, 1970

Illustration by Jon Waterman

On April 2, 2013, Louis Taylor was released from prison where he had been serving time after being convicted of starting a deadly hotel fire in Tucson, Arizona. When he was arrested, Taylor proclaimed his innocence, but he was found guilty and spent the next 42 years behind bars. When the case was finally revisted it was determined that the fire was most likely caused by faulty electrical wiring. Taylor was 16 when he was arrested. He was 58 when he was released.


Louis Taylor - Jon Waterman

His wasn't the story of the hurricane
Bob Dylan didn't write a song to help him clear his name
So for 40 years he languished in an Arizona cell
But Louis Taylor didn't start that fire at the Pioneer hotel

It was a late night in December, 1970
More than 29 lives were lost in that tragedy
Because an all white jury voted Louis Taylor had to pay
And you can't give years back to a man once you've taken them away

And there ain't no flames burn hotter than the fires of hell
No walls are ever colder than those of a prison cell
Where a man wrongly convicted has been condemned to dwell
And bear the smolderin’ despair no prayers can ever quell
See Louis Taylor, he didn't start that fire at the Pioneer Hotel

He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time
And that landed him in the wrong place for a long time
Forty years he spent locked in an Arizona cell
But Louis Taylor, he didn't start that fire at the Pioneer Hotel
©2013 Jon Waterman

Recording Info:
Jon Waterman- Vocal, Guitar and Percussion


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