The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #43656   Message #638688
Posted By: masato sakurai
30-Jan-02 - 11:45 AM
Thread Name: Origins: History on Frankie and Johnny
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
Notes from The Traditional Ballad Index:

Notes: Various theories have been proposed to explain the origin of this ballad. One theory connects it with the story of Frankie Silvers [Laws E13]. Another links it to the murder of Allen Britt by Frankie Baker in St. Louis, MO, on Oct. 15, 1899 (she was jealous of his relationship with Alice Pryor). (This murder was documented in the October 19, 1899 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.) Versions have shown a tendency to take on local color and even be connected with local events. - RBW, EC
Legman offers extensive documentation for the ballad in Randolph-Legman I. - EC
Researcher Rusty David, of St. Louis, suggests that while the details of the current ballad support the Frankie Baker/Allen Britt story, in fact the ballad predates this murder, and describes a killing that took place in the same red-light district of St. Louis sometime around 1865-70. When the Baker/Britt killing took place, according to David, the earlier ballad was modified to fit the new events. He bases this suggestion on having found traces of the ballad before 1899. -PJS

~Masato