Friday, November 30, 2012

Four Examples Of "Stagger Lee"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases sound files or videos of Mississippi John Hurt, Lloyd Price, Taj Mahal, and Wilson Pickett singing versions of the Blues/R&B classic "Stagger Lee".

Information about this song are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All rights remain with their owners.

"Stagger Lee", also known as "Stagolee", "Stackerlee", "Stack O'Lee", "Stack-a-Lee" and several other variants, is a popular folk song based on the murder of William "Billy" Lyons by Stagger Lee Shelton...

The first published version of the song was by folklorist John Lomax in 1910. The song was well known in African American communities along the lower Mississippi River by the 1910s.

Before World War II, it was commonly known as "Stack O'Lee"... In Mississippi John Hurt's version, as in all such pieces, there are many (sometimes anachronistic) variants on the lyrics. Several older versions give Billy's last name as "De Lyons" or "Deslile".
Warning: That Wikipedia page includes profanity.
The legend of Stagger Lee is one of the most important and enduring stories from American folklore. Although it has had some popularity with the white community, it is a story that comes from the African-American oral tradition. There are many different versions of the tale, but here is the general storyline. Stagger Lee (also known as Stagolee, Stackerlee, Stackalee etc.) gets into a dispute with a man named Billy DeLyon (also known as Billy the Lion or Billy Lyons) after losing his Stetson hat to Billy while gambling. Stagger Lee pulls a gun (sometimes identified as a .45, other times as a "smokeless .44") on Billy who then pleads to be spared for the sake of his wife and children. Showing no compassion at all, Stagger Lee cold-bloodedly shoots and kills his opponent...
Click for multiple pages of information about Stagger Lee Shelton, including the following theory:
"Shelton may have taken his 'Stack Lee' nickname from a white man called Stacker Lee, whose father owned the famous Lee Steam Line of riverboats...Travelling up and down the Mississippi between St Louis and New Orleans, he became well-known as a gambler, a hell-raiser and a ladies' man. He made a habit of fathering illegitimate children wherever his boat put in, often by black or mixed-race women.

It's very unlikely that Shelton was really Stacker Lee's son - the dates and locations are all wrong for that - but he may well have adopted his nickname to hint at that possibility. Shelton's light skin, described by Jefferson Penitentiary as a “mulatto complexion”, would have made it easy for people to believe he had a white father. Who could blame him for hinting that father was the glamorous son of a powerful, rich family?
Also, click for a list of hundreds of recordings of "Stagger Lee" ("Stack O Lee").

Example #1: Mississippi John Hurt - The Ballad Of Stagger Lee

Uploaded by JTgrimteam on Jul 20, 2010

In My Opinion ; One Of the Best And Most Genuine Musical Pieces Ever Recorded. Mississippi John Was an Amazing Musician And Human Being.

Example #2: Lloyd Price - Stagger Lee

Uploaded by RoverTCB on Apr 29, 2008

The first censored rock n roll record to be a n°1 hit
The Wikipedia page whose link is given above includes information about how Dick Clark, the host of the television program "American Bandstand" made Lloyd Price change the lyrics of this song for that show's performance.

Example #3: STAGGER LEE (1969) by Taj Mahal

Uploaded by wilsonmcphert on Nov 5, 2009

...I have done a slideshow video for this song and to try and help tell the story.

Example #4: stagger lee - wilson picket

youknowstone, Uploaded on Mar 19, 2008
wicked live
This singer's nickname was "The Wicked Wilson Pickett".

My thanks to the composer/s of this song. My thanks also to the vocalists, and musicians featured in these sound files and this video. Thanks also to the uploaders of these sound files & video, and to those whose comments are quoted in this post.

Finally, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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