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Listen to different versions of 'Stagger Lee'


Related threads:
Stagolee by Blind Pete & Partner (6)
Lyr Add: Stagalee (from J & A Lomax) (5)
(origins) Origins: Stagger Lee / Stack O'Lee / etc. (142)
Chords Req: Stackerlee (Dave Van Ronk) (5)
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Lyr/Chords Req: Stagger Lee (Lloyd Price) (4)
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Nick 21 Nov 96 - 01:46 PM
dick greenhaus 21 Nov 96 - 07:32 PM
GUEST,margret 07 Jul 09 - 12:24 PM
Roberto 07 Jul 09 - 01:40 PM
Fred McCormick 07 Jul 09 - 02:06 PM
PoppaGator 07 Jul 09 - 02:13 PM
Leadbelly 07 Jul 09 - 02:25 PM
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Subject: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Nick
Date: 21 Nov 96 - 01:46 PM

I am interestd in listening to and finding out more about the old song "Stagger Lee". Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds recently did a version on their "Murder Ballads" album. I would like to hear other versions.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Nov 96 - 07:32 PM

Hi- It's often listed as Stagolee or Stackerlee.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST,margret
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 12:24 PM

stagger lee was an african american who killed another african american over an hat.!!!!

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Roberto
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 01:40 PM

I would suggest at least these three...

Billy Lyions and Stackolee
Furry Lewis

I was standing on the corner,
When I heard my bulldog bark;
He was barking at the two mens
Who gambling in the dark.

It was Stagolee and Billy,
Two men who gamble late;
Stagolee throw seven,
Billy swore that he thro wed eight.

Stagolee told Billy,
« I can't let you go with that;
You have win my money
And my brand-new Stetson hat ».

Stagolee went home,
And he got his forty-four;
Says, « I'm going to the bar room
To pay the debt I owe ».

Stagolee went to the bar room,
Stood four feet from the door,
Didn't nobody know when he
Pulled his forty-four.

Stagolee found Billy,
« Oh please, don't take my life,
I got three little chillen
And a very sick li'l wife ».

Stagolee shot Billy,
Oh, he shot that boy so fas',
That the bullet came through him
And broke my window glass.

Some folks don't b'lieve,
Oh Lord, that Billy dead,
You don't believe he gone,
Just look what a hole his head.

Frank Hutchison

Cold and early one dark and drizzly night,
Billy Lyons and Stackalee had one terrible fight,
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Stackalee walked to the bar-room and he called a glass of beer.
He turned around to Billy Lyons said: "What are you doing here?"
"Waitin' for the train to bring my woman home."

"Stackalee, oh Stackalee, please don't take my life,
"I've got three little children and a weepin' lovin' wife.
"You're a bad man, bad man Stackalee."

"God bless your children, I'll take care of your wife.
"You stole my John B. and I'm bound to take your life."
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Stackalee turned to Billy Lyons and shot him right through the head.
It only took him one shot to kill Billy Lyons dead.
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Sent for the doctor, well the doctor he did come.
"Well now, ole Stackalee, now what have you done?
"You're a bad man, bad man Stackalee."

Six big horses and a rubber tired hack.
They've taken him to the cemetary; they fail to bring him back.
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Spoken: Lookin' for old Stackalee then.

Cold and early, you could hear the bulldog bark.
It must have been ole Stackalee stumblin' in the dark.
He's a bad man, gonna land him right back in jail.

Spoken: How did they catch ole Stackalee?

High police walked onto Stackalee; he was lyin' fast asleep.
High police said: "Stackalee," he jumped for forty feet
He's a bad man, gonna land him right back in jail.

Got ole Stackalee they land him right back in jail.
They couldn't get a man around to go Stackalee's bail.
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Stackalee said to the jailer, "Jailer, I can't sleep,
"From my bedside Billy Lyons began to creep."
All about that John B. Stetson hat.

Mississippi John Hurt

Police officer, how can it be?
You can 'rest everybody, but cruel Stagolee,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.

Mister Lyons told Stagolee, «Please don't take my life,
I got two little babes, and a darling loving wife»,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.

«What I care 'bout two little babes, darling loving wife?
You done stole my Stetson hat, I'm bound to take your life»,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.

Boom boom, boom boom, went the forty-four,
O when I spied Mister Lyons, he's lying down on the floor,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.

Gentlemen of the jury, «What do you think of that?
Stagolee killed Billy Lyons all 'bout that Stetson hat,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee».

Hanging on the gallows, head way up high,
At twelve o'clock they killed him, they's all glad to see him die,
That bad man, oh cruel Stagolee.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:06 PM

I'm particularly fond of two versions, in both of which the narrative has dissolved somewhat. They are:

Stackerlee, by a singer identified purely as 'Bama'. He turns up on Prison Songs: Historical Recordings from Parchman Farm 1947-48: Vol 1: Murderous Home. Rounder CD 1714.

ORIGINAL STACK O' LEE BLUES. The Down Home Boys; Long Cleve Reed,Little Harvey Hull and poss Sunny Wilson. That's on Down in the Basement: Joe Bussard's Treasure Trove of Vintage 78s. 1926 - 1937. Old Hat CD-1004

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: PoppaGator
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:13 PM

There are more differences here than the usual lyrical "variants" to the same melody; there are several completley different songs about the same event.

I am very famiilar with two: the John Hurt version shown above, and the Lloyd Price hit record from the late 1950s, which is about the same as the Furry Lewis version shown above and which is part of the New Orleans R&B piano tradition. I don't know the Frank Hamilton song shown above, but it must be sung to yet another melody because the verses wouldn't fit either of the two that I do know.

There's a LOT of information about the real-life event that inspired this hugely popular set of ballads, much of it conflicting. (See the various Mudcat "related threads," some of which refer to entire books on the subject.) One thing about which everyone agrees: it happened in St. Louis.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Leadbelly
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:25 PM

At least 2 Skiffle Groups supplied versions:

Stakalee (Stack O' Lee) by Dick Bishop (vocal/guitar),Lonnie Donegan (lead guitar) and Chris Barber (bass); 1956

Stack o Lee Blues by The Ken Colyer Skiffle Group; 1956

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:53 PM

There's a list of Stackolee recordings, which claims to be comprehensive, at . 229 entries. Last updated September 2007.

Stagger Lee Songs
237 listed as of Sept. 22, 2010
Group - Title - Year - Label, LP or CD

  • Artist - Name - Cd/LP Title - Label - Year
  • Andrews, Ben - Staggerlee - Gallow's Pole - 2001
  • Angola Prisoners - Stackerlee - Murderer's Home (Compilation)
  • Archibald (Leon T Gross) - Stack-A-Lee Pt 1& 2 - Imperial 5068, 1950
  • Baker, Mickey - Stack O'Lee - 1976
  • Ballero, Jimmy - Staggerlee - Jimmy Balllero & the Renegade Band - 1994
  • Barnes, Jimmy - Stagger Lee - Soul Deep
    • Stagger Lee - (Live) Mushroom CD - Mush - 1991
  • Bartholomew, Dave - Son of Stagger Lee - 1998
  • Bassholes - Stack O’ Lee and Billy Lyons - Blue Roots [CD]
  • Bechet, Sidney - Old Stack O'Lee Blues - 1946
  • Beck - Stagolee - John Hurt tribute album
  • Bell, Tom - Stagolee - LOC - 1937
  • Bibb, Eric - Stagolee - Up Close with Eric Bibb - ABC - 2007
  • Black Keys - Stack Shot Billy - Rubber Factory
  • Block, Rory - Stackerlee - 1988?
  • Blind Pete & partner - Stagolee - 1934
  • Bloomfield, Mike - Staggerlee - 1977
  • Blues Rider Trio with Ben Andrews - Staggerlee - Harp Steel And Guts - Mapleshade Records - 2000
  • Blue Stuff [Italian group] - Stagger Lee - 1990?
  • Bogan, Lucille - Jim Stack O'Lee Blues - 1934
  • Bookbinder, Roy - Stack O'Lee
  • Booker, James - Tubby pt 1 & 2 - All the 45s and More - Night Train
  • Boone, Pat - Stagger Lee
  • Bradshaw, Tiny- Stack of Dollars - Great Composer [CD]
  • Bray, John (Big Nig) - Stagolee- 1934
  • Bridges, Curley - Stagger Lee - Keys to the Blues [CD]
  • Bromberg, David - Mrs Delion's Lament
  • Broonzy, Big Bill; Sonny Boy Williamson(III); Memphis Slim - Bama's Stacker Lee
  • Broussard, Mike - Stagger Lee - South Louisiana Style Music, Vol. 1 - 1999
  • Brown, Angela - Stagger Lee - 1988?
  • Brown, James - Stagger Lee - Cold Sweat - King LP KS-1020 - 1967
  • Brown, Richard Rabbit - Stack O' Lee Blues
  • Brozman, Bob - Stack O Lee Aloha - 1992
  • Burnside, RL - Staggolee - Well, Well, Well - MC Records - 1986
  • Burt Garvin, Danielle Fraley, & J.P. Fraley - Stack-O-Lee
  • Byrd, Jonathan - Stackalee
  • Calloway, Cab - Stack O' Lee Blues - 1931
  • Cave, Nick and the Bad Seeds - Stagger Lee - Murder Ballads - Reprise- 1996
  • Cephas, John & Phil Wiggins - Stagolee - 1984
    • Stagger Lee - Dog Days of August - 1986
    • Stack And The Devil - Somebody Told The Truth - 2002 - Alligator
  • Clash - Wrong Em Boyo
  • Clayton, Paul - Stackolee - Riverside
  • Coastline Band - Staggerlee - Lost At Sea
  • Colyer, Ken - Stack-O-Lee Blues - 1958
  • Compton Bros - Stagger Lee
  • Cortez, Dave "Baby" - Stagger Lee
  • Curtis, Lucius - Stagolee - Mississippi Blues [Various artists-CD] - 1940-1942
  • Deals Gone Bad -Stack-O-Lee - Everything Off-Beat, Vol.2
  • Devlin, Johnny - Staggerlee
  • Diamond, Neil - Stagger Lee - September Morn -1979
  • Dion - Stagger Lee - Lovers Who Wander - Laurie lp 2012 - 1962
  • Dodds, Johnny (O'Neil Spencer vocalist) - Stack O'Lee Blues - 1938
  • Domino, Fats - Stack and Billy - 1957
  • Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group: - Stackalee - Pye EP - 1957 (?)
  • Domino, Fats - Staggerlee - 1973?
  • Downchild Blues Band - Staggerlee
  • Dorsey, Lee - Stagger Lee - 1966
  • Down Home Boys - see Cleve Hull
  • Dr John - Stack-A-Lee - 1972
    • Stakalee - N'awlins Dis Dat or D'udda - EMI - 2004
  • Dr. Hook- Stagolee - Pleasure & Pain
  • Dukes, Little Laura - Stack O'Lee
  • Dupree, Champion Jack - Stack-O-Lee - 1958
  • Dylan, Bob - Stack A Lee - World Gone Wrong - 1993
  • Ealey, Theodis - Stagger Lee - Raw
  • Edwards, Clarence & Cornelius - Stack O’ Dollars -Country Negro Jam Sessions
  • Edwards, Cliff - Stack O'Lee - (Part 1) - 1928
  • Edwards, Cliff - Stack O'Lee - (Part 2) - 1928
  • Edwards, Honeyboy - Stagolee - Delta Bluesman- 1942
  • Ellington, Duke - Stack O'Lee Blues - 1927
  • Ellis, Shirley - Stagger Lee - The Name Game - Congress LP CGL/CGS-3003 - 1965
  • English, Logan - Stackerlee - Riverside
  • Estes, Sleepy John - Stack O’ Dollars
  • Fabulous Thunderbirds - Staggerlee
  • flathead - Stagger Lee
  • Flynn, Buena - Stagolee - LOC - 1936
  • Ford and Ford - Skeeg-a-Lee Blues - 1924
  • Ford, Tennessee Ernie - Stack-o-Lee - 1951
  • Frank Westphal & His Regal Novelty Orchestra - Stack O'Lee Blues - COLUMBIA 32d (rel. 10/18/1923)
  • Fruit Jar Guzzlers - Stack-O-Lee - My Rough & Rowdy Ways, Vol.1
  • Fuller, Jesse - Stagolee - 1958 - Good Time Jazz
  • Tony Furtado Band - Stagger Lee - 2002
  • Gant, Foy - Stackerlee - 1934
  • Garland, Terry - Stagger Lee - 1995?
  • Gilley, Mickey - Stagger Lee - One And Only
  • Grateful Dead - Staggerlee - Shakedown Street - Arista - 1978
  • Gray, Henry - Staggerlee - Blues Won't Let Me Take My Rest - 1999
  • Griffin, George - Stackerlee - Time Has Come
  • Guthrie, Woody - Stack-o-Lee - 1944 - The Essential Woody Guthrie (Union Square Music Ltd, 2006: METRCD181)
  • Haley, Bill and The Comets - Staggerlee - LP WB WS 1378, 04/1960
  • Hardin, Tim - Stagger Lee - This Is Tim Hardin -1967
  • Harrison, Wilbert - Stagger Lee - 1969
  • Haley, Ed - Stacker Lee - Forked Deer, Vol.1
  • Hall, Bob - Stagolee - Down the Road Apiece
  • Hall, Vera - Stagolee - LOC - 1937
  • Hardin, Tim - Stagger Lee - 1967
  • Harris, Blind Jesse - Stagolee - 1937
  • Harrison, Wilbert - Stagger Lee
  • Herb Wiedoeft's Cinderella Roof Orchestra - Stack O'Lee Blues - 1924
  • Michael Hill Blues Mob - Stagolee - Perspective - 1996 - Alligator
  • Hodes, Art - Stack O'Lee Blues - 1987
  • Holt, John - Staggerlee - John Holt: Anthology 1962 to 1979
  • Hoopii, Sol - Stack O’ Lee Blues - Master of the Hawaiian Guitar, Vol.1 - 1926
  • Hot Tuna - Staggerlee
  • Houston, Cisco - Staggerlee - Folkways
  • Hull, Papa Harvey (Long Cleve Reed) - Original Stack O'Lee Blues - 1927
  • Hunter, Ivory Joe - Stackolee - 1933
  • Hunter, Robert - Delia DeLyon And Stackolee
  • Hurt, Mississippi John - Stack O'Dollars (Stagolee's girlfriend) - 1930
  • Hurt, Mississippi John - Stack O'Lee Blues - 1928
    • there are 8 different recordings by Hurt from 1963-1965 (issued under four different titles - Stackolee, Stagolee, Stack-O-Lee, Staggerlee)
  • Hutchison, Frank - Stackalee - 1927
  • Isley Bros - Staggerlee - The Fabulous Isley Brothers - UAL-3313/UAS-6313 - 1963
  • Jack Linx & His Society Serenaders - Stack O'Lee Blues - 1927
  • Jacobs, Bryan - Staggerlee
  • Jackson, Albert - Stagolee - 1934
  • Jackson, Bruce - Stack-O-Lee
  • Jackson, Samuel - Staggerlee - Black Snake Moan Soundtrack - 2006
  • James, Steve - Stack Lee's Blues - Boom Chang - Burnside Records - 2000
  • Jansch, Bert - Stagolee -Young Man Blues: Live in Glasgow 1962-1964
  • Johnson, Stella - Trial of Stagger Lee - Night Train
  • Johnson, Tex and his Six Shooters - Stack O' Lee - Gun Fighter Ballads - 1958
  • Jones, Bob & The Range Hands - Stack O'Lee - 1971 - Cornet
  • Jones, Tom - Stagger Lee
  • Jordan, Charley - Stack O'Dollar Blues - 1930
  • Journeymen - Stackolee - Capitol LP ST 1951 - New Directions In Folk Music - 1963
  • Keb Mo - Stack O Leemovie titled Honeydripper
  • Kruger Brothers - Stagolee
  • Kweskin, Jim - Staggerlee - Vanguard- 1967
  • LaBeef, Sleepy - Staggerlee - 1994
  • Lester, Julius - Stagolee
  • Lewis, Furry - Billy Lyons and Stack O'Lee (aka Stackerlee) - 1927
  • Lewis, Jerry Lee - Stagger Lee - 1959
  • Lewis, Huey - Stagger Lee -Four Chords & Several Years Ago
  • Lopez, Trini - Stagger Lee - Live At Basin St. East - Reprise LP 6134 - 1964
  • Lords, The - Staggerlee
  • New Lost City Ramblers - Staggerlee - Vol 4 - 1962
  • Lucious Curtis & Willie Ford- Stagolee - Flyright- 1940
  • Marseille Figs - Stagolee -
  • Martin, Bert - Stagolee - LOC- 1937
  • Mayall, John & The Bluesbreakers with Eric Bibb - Staggerlee - bootleg of Rockin' Blues Revue 2005
  • Maxey, Matthew "Hogman" - Stagolee - 1959
  • McCoys - Staggerlee
  • McCurdy, Ed - Stackerlee - Elektra
  • McLean, Roscoe - Stagolee - LOC - 1936
  • Melcher, Terry - Stagger Lee
  • Miller, Dale - Stagger Lee - Fingerpicking Rags and Other Delights
  • Miller, Dave - That Bad Man Stackolee - My Rough & Rowdy Ways, Vol 2 Yazoo 2040
  • Modern Life is War - Stagger Lee - 2007
  • Moeller, Johnny - Stagger Lee - Johnny's Blues Aggregation - 2001
  • Moore, Rudy Ray - Stack-A-Lee - Dolemite For President)
  • Morey, Frank - Stagger Lee - delmark records - 2002
  • Mr. Boogie Woogie & the Firesweep Bluesband - Stagger Lee - Boogie Trap -1996
  • Muddy Waters/Memphis Slim - Stack Alee
  • My Dad Is Dead- Stack O’ Lee Blues - Let’s Skip the Details
  • Nelson, Sandy - Stagger Lee
  • O'Brien, Tim & Mollie - Stagger Lee
  • Kevin O’Donnell’s Quality Six- Stack O’Lee - Heretic Blues
  • Otis, Johnny - Stack-a-Lee
  • Pacific Gas & Electric- Staggolee
  • Papa Blue’s Viking Jazzband- Stack O’ Lee Blues - Down by River
  • Uncle John Patterson - Stagolee Was a Bully
  • Pickett, Wilson - Stagger Lee - Heart And Soul Of Wilson Pickett - 1967
  • Powers, Jett - Stagger Lee -California License
  • Presley, Elvis - Stagger Lee - Get Down And Get With It
  • Price, Lloyd - Stagger Lee - 1959
  • Price, Leo - Stagger Lee - Instrumental
  • Pride, Charlie - Stagger Lee
  • Proby, PJ - Staggerlee - 1964
  • Professor Longhair - Stag O Lee - 1974
    • Stagger Lee - 1975
    • Stagger Lee - 1978
    • Stag-o Lee - 1978
  • Q65, The - Staggerlee
  • The Quintet- Stagger Lee - Future Tense
  • Rachell, Yank - Stack O'Dollar Blues - 1934
  • Rainey, Ma - Stack O'Lee Blues - 1925
  • Ramsey, Henry - Stackolee - Album: Get Your Ass In The Water And Swim Like Me! - 17 November 1965
  • Lee Rand - Stagger Lee - 45 rpm - Diamond #359 - 1963
  • Rea, David - Stack-O-Lee - 1997
  • The Rhythm Kings - Staggerlee - Official Bootleg - 2000
  • Righteous Bros - Staggerlee - Go Ahead & Cry - 1966
  • Ringer, Jim - Mrs. DeLion's Lament- Any Old Wind That Blows Philo 1021- 1975
  • Rivers, Johnny - Staggerlee
  • Robertson, Lonnie - Stagolee - LOC - 1936
  • Robison, Carson - Stack O'Lee Blues - 1932
  • Roe, Tommy - Staggerlee - 45 rpm - ABC 11307 - 1971
  • Rooftop Singers - Stagolee
  • Rovensky, Jaron & Friends - Stagerlee - Live in Camrose
  • Rulers - Wrong Em Boyo - Trojan's Ska box set volume 1
  • Russo, Mike - Stack O'Lee - Arhoolie (self titled) lp #4003 - 1969
  • Rush, Tom - Staggerlee - Prestige (Blues Songs & Ballads) - 1963
  • Rydell, Bobby - Stagger Lee
  • Sahm, Doug - Stagger Lee - 1984
  • Sam The Sham - Stagger Lee - 1968 - Ten Of Pentacles - MGM LP SE-4526
  • Saragossa Band- Stagger-Lee -Das Totale Zazazabadak
  • Satan and Adam - Stagga Lee - 1996
  • Seeger, Pete - Stagolee - 1958 - Folkways
  • Sedaka, Neil - Staggerlee - 1984
  • Senter, Boyd - Stagger Lee - 1928
  • Shelton, Roscoe - Stagger Lee -Tennessee R&B; Live
  • Shizzoe, Hank - Stagger Lee - 1995?
  • Sir Douglas Quintet - Staggerlee - Soul Jam - 2000
  • Sleepy LeBeef - Staggerlee
  • Smith, Bennie - Stagger Lee - Urban Soul - 1993?
  • Snatch and the Poontangs (Johnny Otis) - The Great Stack-a-Lee
  • Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes- Stagger Lee - 1981
  • Spencer & Spencer - Stagger Lawrence - 1959? - Gone
  • The Staggers - Stagger Lee - 2001
  • Stanley, Ralph - Stack O'Lee - Down From The Mountain: O Brother Where Art Thou
  • The Starlites- Stagger Lee - Eastern PA Rock
  • Storks, Willie - Stackerlee - 1942 - LOC
  • Taj Mahal - Stagger Lee
    • There are at least 3 or 4 other Taj Mahal versions (from 1969 - 1996)
  • Terry, Dewey - Stag-o-Lee - 1973?
  • Terry, Sonny - Stackolee - 1946
  • Thompson, Evelyn - Stack O'Lee Blues - 1927
  • Threadgill Troubadoors - Stagger Lee - 1991
  • The Trojans - Stack o' Lee - 12" record - 1989
  • Turner, Ike and Tina - Stagger Lee and Billy - 45 rpm - Sue #139 - 1965
  • Turner, Titus - (Return Of) Stagger Lee - 1959
  • Van Ronk, Dave - Stackalee
  • Ventures - Staggerlee
  • Walker, Robert "Bilbo" - Stagg-o-Lee - 2001- Rock the Night - Rooster Blues
  • Washboard Chaz Trio - Staggerlee - 2004 - Dog Days
  • Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians - Stack O'Lee Blues - Victor vi19189a (rel. 10/16/1923)
  • Watson, Doc; Haggard, Merle - Stack O'Lee
  • Weller, Freddy - Stagger Lee -The Promised Land - 1972
  • Wells, Mary - Stag-O-Lee - Complete Jubilee Sessions
  • West, Sam Ku - Stack O' Lee Blues
  • Weston, Arthur - Stack O’ Dollars -Pea Vine Whistle
  • Whitley, Chris - Stagger Lee Dislocation Blues
  • Willie and The Poor Boys - Stagger Lee - 1992
  • Williams, Joe - Stack O' Dollars - 1935
  • Wilson, Larry Jon - Stagger Lee - Sojourner - Monument - 1976
  • Youngbloods - Stagger Lee - 1971
  • Zim Zemarel & His Orch - Stagger Lee - 1992
  • There are also 5 or 6 versions done by unidentified singers on various Library of Congress Recordings

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:59 PM

different? The Clash -- "Wrong 'Em Boyo"

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: pdq
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:01 PM

David Bromberg's manic version must be heard to be believed.

He actually calls it "Mrs. Delion's Lament", found on his "Reckless Abandon" album.

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Subject: Lyr Add: STAGGER LEE (from Grateful Dead)
From: michaelr
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:22 PM

Here's an interesting ancillary lyric, from Mrs. DeLyon's perspective:

Lyrics By: Robert Hunter; Music By: Jerry Garcia

Nineteen forty, Xmas eve, with the full moon over town
Stagger Lee shot Billy DeLyon and he blew that poor boy down
Do you know what he shot him for, what do you make of that
'Cause Billy DeLyon threw lucky dice, won Stagger Lee's stetson hat

Baio, Baio, tell me how can this be
You go arrest the girls for turning tricks but you're scared of Stagger Lee
Stagger Lee is a mad man, and he shot my Billy dead
Baio go get him, or give the job to me

Delia, Delia, dear sweet Delia D
How the hell can I arrest him, when he's twice as big as me
Well don't ask me to go downtown, I wouldn't come back alive
Not only is that mother big, he packs a forty five

Baio, Delia said, just give me a gun
He shot my Billy dead and now I'm gonna see him hung
She waded to DeLyon's club through Billy DeLyon's blood
Stepped up to Stagger Lee at the bar, said buy me a gin fizz love

As Stagger Lee lit a cigarette, she shot him in the balls
Blew the smoke off her revolver, had him dragged to City Hall
Baio, Baio, see you hang him high
He shot my Billy dead and now he's got to die

Delia went a-walking down on Singapore Street
Three piece band on the corner played 'nearer my God to thee'
But Delia whistled a different tune, what tune could it be
The song that woman sang was look out Stagger Lee
The song that Delia sang was look out Stagger Lee

Based on the traditional song "Stagger Lee", "Stagolee" or "Stack O'Lee." Robert Hunter wrote a version that he performed solo, and Jerry Garcia subsequently re-ordered the lyrics and rewrote the music for the Grateful Dead's version. More recently Bob Weir has also been performing some of the older traditional versions with Ratdog.

This is the version as performed by the Grateful Dead.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Nerd
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:26 PM

Nick Cave's version is unlike most other sung versions, because Stack O' Lee existed quite separately in the song tradition and the "toast" (spoken verse) tradition. Cave's is essentially a "toast" version set to music. The "toast" versions are generally ruder, and involve Stack O'Lee in sexual escapades as well as horrific violence.

An interesting version in this regard is R.L. Burnside's, which Samuel L. Jackson covered in the movie "Black Snake Moan"; it's also one of the "toast" versions, and is basically spoken word accompanied by blues guitar (or a full band in Jackson's cover). Jackson's is on the BSM soundtrack, and Burnside's on his album "well, well, well." You can also hear a pure "toast" version (no musical accompaniment) on the compilation CD "Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me," from Rounder. You can buy all these CDs or mp3 downloads from Amazon.

One of my favorite versions is Bromberg's. The title is funny, because it's neither a lament nor from Mrs. Delion's point of view--but it's a great song!

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Stewie
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 09:21 PM

Dale Rose posted Jim Ringer's delightful parody in this thread:

Mrs DeLions Lament.

In line six in first stanza, it should read 'forty dollar shoes'.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 23 Oct 11 - 06:34 AM

Does anyone have a version that goes: "Stag,Stag,Stagolee,he's the meanest man in town,Every time he gambles,better lay your money down,down in St. Louis,they call the Lyons Club, And Every step,you're step,step,stepping in Billy Lyons blood."This is a great chorus I learned from Rick Curtis in Indiana,but I thought it was part of the original song/

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 04:33 PM

Check out the Tim Hardin version on Youtube. It is great!

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 19 Oct 15 - 04:47 PM

My essay here tells the real story behind the song, surveys the most significant recordings of it and provides a link to a collector's list detailing nearly 300 different versions.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: clueless don
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 08:13 AM

There is a version out there that I heard back in my grad school days. It may already have been referenced in the comments above, and I just don't know it by the title. Anyway, the chorus goes something like

Stagolee, oh Stagolee, he's the meanest man around.
When that boy is dealin', better lay your money down!
Way down in New Orleans they got a place called the Lion's Club.
But every step you step you're steppin' in Billy Lyons' blood.

My memory isn't real clear on the use of "man" vs. "boy" in the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Reinhard
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 04:25 PM

Paul, I think I have only five versions of "Stagger Lee", but four of them are not in Dave Hirsch's list of 324 recordings:

1. John Gibbon, Stakolee, "John Gibbon's Disc", Topic 10T11 (1957)
2. Trevor Lucas, Stagger Lee, from the 1963 Folk Attick recordings in Sydney, included in "The Attic Tracks Vol. 4", Friends of Fairport FOFC6 (1994)
3. Jesse Fuller, Stackolee, recorded at Cecil Sharp House in 1965, "Move on Down the Line", Topic 12T134 (1965)
4. Snakefarm, Staggerlee, "My Halo at Half Light", Fledg'ling FLED 3086, 2011

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 20 Oct 15 - 05:46 PM

Thanks, Reinhard. David's got a contact form on his website, and I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 01:12 PM

An outstanding article, Paul.

There may be a half dozen of use able to recognize the amount of time and effort that went into it.

BTW, one of Alan Lomax's sources in the late 1930's thought that "Stack" was short for "Stack o' Dollars."

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 01:28 PM

Lots more info about the song on this thread (incl. my own trivia):

That 1910 copyright by the "Three White Kuhns" seems to be the earliest version known and would be worth tracking down - if possible.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 02:17 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Lighter. If I'm not pushing my luck too much, you might also like to consider buying my book, which adds an exclusive interview with Mick Harvey of Nick Cave's band The Bad Seeds to my Stagger Lee coverage.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 07:30 PM

Pricey, Paul.

But if you'd like to trade a copy for one of my *own* book (less pricey, to be honest) that examines fully for the first time "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye"/ "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again," send a personal message and I'll give you my address.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Mark Ross
Date: 22 Oct 15 - 11:20 PM

The version I learned 50 years ago off of Dave Van Ronk is still my favorite. With a refrain after every verse;

"When you lose your money learn to lose."

By the way I think that the version that Jim Ringer does was written by Shel Silverstein.

Mark Ross

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 24 Oct 15 - 11:48 AM

I wouldn't say a cover price of £16.99 ($21.95 US) is unreasonable for the physical edition of a 300-page book with 16 pages of colours plates - particularly when you bear in mind there's a cheaper e-book option available too. Your mileage may vary, however, so everyone will have to make up their own minds about that.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 24 Oct 15 - 01:52 PM

"The version I learned 50 years ago off of Dave Van Ronk is still my favorite." He got it from Furry's record.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Oct 15 - 03:02 PM

Not "unreasonable," just "pricey."

That means too pricey for my budget.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of "Stagger Lee"
From: GUEST,Triplane
Date: 25 Oct 15 - 12:42 PM

Stagger Lee - Taj Mahal Version

STAGOLEE    (Taj Mahal)

[D] Could Be on a rainy morning
Could be on a rainy night
[D7] Oh, [G] Stagger Lee and Billy DeLyons
Had a great big [D] fight

Talkin bout that [A] bad man,
bad man
Cruel old Stag- [Db] - ger [D] Lee

"Stagger Lee", said Billy,
Man you know I can't go with that
I done worn all your money
and your great big stetson hat …. Chorus

"Stagger Lee", said Billy,
Please don't take my life
I got two lovely children
and a very lovely wife …. Chorus

What do I care about your two little babes
or your darling life
you done wore my stetson hat,
I'm bound to take your life …. Chorus

Well Stagger Lee shot Billy
Shot that boy so bad
that the bullet went through Billy
and broke the bartenders looking glass …. Chorus

If you ever down in Louisiana
go in to the Lyons Club
Every foot you be steppin in
Be Billy De Lyons blood …. Chorus

Could Be on a rainy moring
Could be on a rainy night
Oh, Stagger Lee and Billy DeLyons
Had a great big fight

Talkin bout that bad man,
bad man
Cruel old Stagger Lee …. Chorus

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Subject: ADD Version: Stagolee (Julius Lester)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Nov 18 - 11:28 PM

Somebody told me today that his favorite version of "Stagolee" is the one by Julius Lester:I like it a lot. What do you think?


(as sung by Julius Lester)

She said son he was a bad man
Lord, the baddest man I blow
Well he killed Billy Lyons
With a blue steel forty—four.

Well it was early one mornin'
When I heard bulldog bark
Stagolee and Billy Lyons
Squabblin in the dark.

Now Stagolee told Billy Lyons
Bill what do you think of that
Lord you take all my money
Now you spits in my stetson hat.

Billy Lyons told Stagolee
Lord please don’t take my life
I got three ugly children
And one poor pitiful wife.

God bless your ugly children
And I’ll take care of your wife (pitiful though she be)
But you mess with Stagolee.
Nigger I’m bound to take your life

Well he shot him three times in the shoulder
And three times In the side
And the last time he shot him
Caused that poor Billy Lyons to die.

Now they drove poor Billy Lyons
All up and down old Murray Street
You know that poor boy was bloody
From his head down to his feet.

Now the High Sheriff told his deputies
Get your guns, come with me
We got to arrest that nigger
They call Stagolee.

Now the deputies took their guns
And they laid 'em on the shelf
Said if you want Stagolee
You can arrest him by your goddam self. (what you say?)

Well the Sheriff said to the bartender
Lord who can this man be
Well hush said the bartender
It's that bad Stagolee

Now the Sheriff said to Stagolee
Said Stag why don’t you run
Said I don’t run from white folks
While I got my 41 (tell ‘em about it).

[Spoken] So you know the Sheriff didn’t arrest ol’ Stagolee 'cause he couldn’t get him
But ol' Stag was messin' around with Mrs. Billy lyons, you know, like he promised Billy he would
And the Sheriff gave her a few small coins, you know, to put something in Stagolee's liquor
And she did that, and Stag got knocked out, and so the Sheriff come in one night, you know,
And they had one of them quick trials Southern Style, you know — nigger you guilty, and they took him on out
    Now the hangman dropped a rope
    All round Stagolee’s neck
    Lord, they hung him in the tree
    But Stag’s neck refused to crack (bad man)

    Now the hangman turned to the Sheriff
    Said you see how it be
    Lord, we can't hang this nigger
    I guess we got to let him go free
    (and that's what they did)

[Spoken]Turned Stag loose so they couldn't get him, So you know Stag lived on and on, you know, God knows how many years,
You know, he lived so long that it started attracting attention up in heaven, And you know the Great Lord
Was sittin' back in his red rosy rockin chair one day and, you know, St. Peter came to him and said
Lord, you got to do something, Lord said what's wrong, St. Peter, and St. Peter said
But Lord, there's a man down there in Hangin' Nigger, Georgia, called Stagolee
You know he should have been dead near about 200 years ago, seems like to me
Said he's raisin' hell down there and carryin' on, you know, I think it's time you called him, you know
So the Lord calls for the Great Book, the Judgement Book, you know, and he ran through it, you know
And got down to the S's, and you know he looked up Stagolee
And you know up there in heaven you know everything bad you lay right down in a book
And Lord, Stag had now on to you know 4,000 pages in there.

And the Lord said, call me Death, So Death was sittin' down there in the stables, asleep you know
And Death heard the Lord's voice ringin' down through the golden streets, you know,
And he jumps up and he gets on his pale white horse, you know, and old Pale Death comes ridin' down
Through the streets of heaven, Everybody close the door, Even in heaven they scared of Death, you know
So Death rode up and he said, Lord you called
The Lord said I want you to go down there to Hangin' Nigger, Georgia
And bring me that man called Stagolee.

Death rode off you know down through heaven down to earth
Well, you know Stagolee was sittin' down there on the front porch drinkin' white lightnin' you know
And pickin' on the guitar and carryin' on with the women and carousin' you know
And he looks up and he sees this white-lookin' man you know come ridin' up on this white horse
Cracked up, He said man what's wrong with you man, It's daytime
We ain't never had no Klan daytime ridin' around here
What's wrong with you? Man walked up and said Stagolee, I'm Death, Come with me
Stagolee said ain't this a blip man, who you think you talkin to, And Death got sort of you know frustrated
At that you know he said Stagolee, I'm Death, Come on I ain't got all day here, man what's wrong with you
And Stagolee said hey if you don't get outta here I'm gonna shoot you, And Stagolee pulled out his gun you know
But Death never heard of nothin' like this before you know, And Death said well I best run over to the Boss
So Death jumped back on his pale horse and went back on up to heaven you know
And so St. Peter was looking down you know over the clouds and he said, Boy I see Death come ridin back like mad
And Death got closer and St. Peter said, Woo-ooh, look like somethin' scared him to death
I didn't mean nothin' wrong there but he looks mighty scared, Lord
So Death came in, he said Lord this is a job for you, So the Lord reached behind his big rosy rocking chair you know
And he pulled down one of his big thunderbolts and he said, How you spell Stagolee, St. Peter
And St. Peter said, Lord you know everything don't you
He said you better shut up and tell me how to spell Stagolee here
So Stagolee you know they spelled it out for the Lord you know
And the Lord wrote it out on his thunderbolt --
S-T-A-G-O-L-E-E. Stagolee.
So the Lord blew away a few clouds you know and he looked down on the earth there
And he looked down there, he said Oo-ooh man they sure carryin' on over there in India... folks starvin'
What's wrong over there? And St. Peter said Lord, America, that ain't America, America's over that way Lord
So the Lord looked on around, said Oo-ooh, will you look at all that sinnin' down there
He said, Lord will stop lookin' at California and go and get Stagolee for cryin' out loud
Lord said Oo-ooh that desert, that -- that's Nevada ain't it, It sure looks hot down there
Folks gamblin' and carryin' on, m-m-m, m-m-m, m-m-m
Somebody ought to do something about all that down there
And St. Peter said, Lord why don't you stop messin' around and go on and get Stagolee on the earth there.

So the Lord put his great eye down there on earth and he ran across you know Missouri, Illinois
And St. Peter said, go south from Illinois Lord
He went south -- through Tennessee down to Georgia, Valdosta Georgia, Atlanta, Savannah
And there it was -- Hangin' Nigger
His great eye went up and down the street
He saw Stagolee and he threw his great thunderbolt
And that was the end of Stagolee -- Can't mess with the Lord too much, you know that.

    Ten thousand dollar funeral
    Lord, a twenty thousand dollar hearse
    And a satisfaction undertaker
    Put Stagolee six feet in the earth

So you know Stag was dead and buried you know but his soul was kind of restless
You can't keep a good man down you know that
And Stagolee decided I can't wait till Judgement Day
Cause he was kind of scared that Gabriel would blow the horn instead of Louis Armstrong on Judgement Day
And he just couldn't stand to hear Gabriel blow, He figured Gabriel couldn't swing too much
So Stagolee decided he'd go on up and check out heaven now
So Stagolee just got on out the grave and went on his way -- you know how it is
So he was walkin' on, took him about ten - you know, heaven's a long way
But Stagolee had plenty of time, you know, Took him about ten thousand years

He got close to heaven you know he started hearin' this harp music
And he said Lord have mercy what's goin' on here -- Don't tell me heaven is segregated
Well, you know he figured that because he didn't hear nobody playin' the blues on the harp you know
He said ain't this a crime, folks singin' hymns just like they sing in church, in heaven
So anyway Stagolee decided he'd go on around to the back door of heaven
Cause he knew there weren't no colored folks up front playin' no hymns on no harp
So he went around back of heaven you know and the back of heaven was stone deserted
Man, wasn't nobody there -- a few chickens you know -- weren't nothin' goin' on
He went back around front and he rung up St. Peter, He said Hey where all the colored folks, man
St. Peter said well I'll tell you how it goes, You know we had to get rid of 'em you know
They's up here playin' the blues on the harps you know
And flattin' thirds in the hymns you know and flattin' fifths and all that -- we couldn't have 'em up here
All we got now is white folks and some middle class Negroes, you know some of the bourgeoise you know
We had to send all the you know colored folks down to hell.

Stagolee didn't wait for another word, He took off goin' down to hell
He got there and he rung up on the gate you know and somebody opened the gate and said
Stagolee what's happenin' baby, we been waitin' for you man, where you been Jack?
Stagolee said I'm here baby, let the good times toll
Say who'se in charge around here, He said Ah the Devil, Stagolee said to him what's that bad odor I smell
He said Ah man we just got a couple of white southerners you know
We kind of cookin' 'em up there for a barbecue we havin'
Stagolee said Yeah this must be the place.

    Now Stagolee told the Devil
    Said come on let's have some fun
    Lord you hit me with your pitchfork
    I'll shoot you with my forty-one

    Stagolee took the pitchfork
    Lord and he laid it on the shelf
    He said stand back Devil
    I'm gonna rule Hell by my goddam self
    (that's just what he did, too)

Source: Broadside Magazine, Issue #66,

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of 'Stagger Lee'
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 30 Nov 18 - 01:42 AM

Take that long list above with a grain of salt because e.g. "Stack O' Dollars Blues" by Charley Jordan, "Stack O' Dollars" by Big Joe Williams, "Stack Of Dollars" by Tiny Bradshaw, and "Skeeg-A-Lee Blues" by Ford and Ford are not versions of this song.

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Subject: RE: Listen to different versions of 'Stagger Lee'
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Nov 18 - 03:31 AM

English Country Blues Band did a wide variety of English Folk Song lyrics with American melodies - They 'did' Stackerlee tune with the John Barleycorn lyrics and called it 'Hard Man'

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