Stagolee (Stackerlee) [Laws I15]

DESCRIPTION: Stagolee and Billy Lyons are playing cards; Lyons wins the hand and the stakes. An angry Stagolee shoots Lyons, is arrested, sentenced, and hanged. The various versions of the ballad expand on different parts of the story
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: homicide gambling prison execution
REFERENCES (20 citations):
Laws I15, "Stagolee (Stackerlee)"
Leach, pp. 765-766, "Stagolee" (2 texts)
Friedman, p. 381, "Stagolee (Stackerlee)" (2 texts)
Cray, pp. 149-154, "Stackolee" (2 texts, 1 tune)
McNeil-SFB1, pp. 66-68, "Stagolee" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rosenbaum, pp. 104-105, "Stagolee Was a Bully" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 92-93, "Stagolee" (2 texts)
Lomax-FSNA 306, "Stagolee" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 93-99, "Stagolee" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 54 "Stackalee" (1 text, 1 tune)
Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 131-133, "Stackalee" (1 text)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 51, "Stagolee" (1 text, 1 tune)
Courlander-NFM, pp. 78-79, "(Stagolee)" (assorted fragments)
MWheeler, pp. 100-102, "Stacker Lee #2" (1 text, 1 tune); also perhaps pp. 102-103, "Stacker Lee #3" (1 text, 1 tune, with references to Stacker Lee though the plot elements seem to have disappeared)
Burt, pp. 202-203, "(Stackalee)" (1 text)
Finger, pp. 91-93, "Stackerlee" (1 text)
Cohen-AFS1, p. 377, "Stagolee" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 243-244, "Stackerlee" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 198, "Stagolee" (1 text)

Roud #4183
Senter Boyd [or Boyd Senter] "Original Stack O'Lee Blues" (OKeh 41115, 1928; Vocalion 03015, 1935)
Cab Calloway & his Orchestra, "Stack O'Lee Blues" (Banner 32378, 1932; rec. 1931)
John Cephas & Phil Wiggins, "Staggerlee (Stagolee)" (on ClassAfrAm)
Johnny Dodds, "Stack O'Lee Blues" (Decca 1676, 1938)
Cliff Edwards ('Ukulele Ike'), "Stack O' Lee, Part 1/Part2" (Columbia 1551-D, 1928; Columbia 1820-D, 1929; Clarion 5449-C/Harmony 1408-H/Velvet Tone 2509, 1932; Vocalion 03324, 1936)
Tennessee Ernie Ford w. Joe "Fingers" Carr, "Stack-O-Lee" (Capitol 1348 or 1349, c. 1951)
Fruit Jar Guzzlers, "Stack-O-Lee" (Paramount 8199, 1928; on RoughWays1)
Vera Hall, "Stagolee" (AFS 1323 A2, 1937)
Sol Hoopii Novelty Trio, "Stack O'Lee Blues" (Columbia 797-D, 1926) (Decca 2241, 1938) [instrumental versions of Cliff Edwards version]
Ivory Joe Hunter, "Stackolee" (AFS CYL-8, 1933)
Mississippi John Hurt, "Stack O'Lee Blues" (OKeh 8654, 1929; rec. 1928; on MJHurt01, MJHurt02); "Stackolee" (on MJHurt04)
Frank Hutchison, "Stackalee" (OKeh 45106, 1927; on AAFM1, GoodForWhatAilsYou)
King Queen and Jack, "Stack-O-Lee Blues"(Gennett 6633/Champion 15605, 1928; Champion 40014, 1935)
Furry Lewis, "Billy Lyons and Stack O'Lee" (Vocalion 1132/Brunswick 80092, 1927)
David Miller, "That Bad Man Stackolee" (Champion 15334/Herwin 75564/Challenge 327 [as Dan Kutter], 1927; on RoughWays2)
Uncle John Patterson & James Patterson, "Stagolee Was a Bully" (on FolkVisions2)
Lloyd Price, "Stagger Lee" (Sparton 679-R, 1958)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Stackerlee" (on NLCR04)
[Gertrude] "Ma" Rainey, "Stack O'Lee Blues" (Paramount 12357, 1926 [rec. 1925])
Clive Reed, "Original Stack O Lee Blues" (Black Patti 8030, 1927; on StuffDreams1 [as Long 'Cleve' Reed & Little Harvey Hull])
Pete Seeger, "Stagolee" (on PeteSeeger18)
Will Starks, "Stackerlee" (AFS 6652 B2, 1942)
Art Thieme, "Stackerlee" (on Thieme05)
Evelyn Thompson, "Stack O'Lee Blues' (Vocalion 1083, 1927)
Waring's Pennsylvanians, "Stack O'Lee Blues" (Victor 19189, 1923)
Washingtonians, "Stack O'Lee Blues" (Harmony 601-H, 1928)
Frank Westphal & his Orchestra, "Stack O'Lee Bllues" Columbia 32-D, 1924; rec. 1923)
Herb Wiedoeft's Cinderella Orchestra, "Stack O'Lee Blues" (Brunswick 2660, 1924)

Frank Hutchison, "Stackalee No. 2" (OKeh 45106, 1927)
NOTES: On Dec. 29, 1895, William Lyons (levee hand) and Lee Sheldon (coach driver, nicknamed "Stag" Lee) were drinking together at a tavern in St. Louis, Missouri. A political discussion began; in the heat of the argument Lyons knocked off Sheldon's hat, and Sheldon promptly pulled a pistol and shot him dead. He was arrested and tried; the first trial ended in a hung jury, but he was convicted in a second trial and served time in prison, dying in 1916.
A St. Louis judge who has researched the case suggests that Sheldon had received a spell from a hoodoo woman giving him exceptional sexual potency. The talisman for that spell was his hat, so knocking it from his head was no ordinary insult.
It is noteworthy that the first recordings of this ballad (Waring, Westphal, Wiedoeft) are by popular dance bands, not blues or hillbilly artists. - PJS
Carl Sandburg, incidentally, enjoyed this song so much that he occasionally signed letters "Stackerlee"; see Herbert Mitgang, editor, The Letters of Carl Sandburg, Harcort Brace & World, 1968, p. 230. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.0
File: LI15

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