i have been getting major into this tale of stagger lee or stack lee.
i posted a thread about some musical versions of a song about him but i am digging legend as it is now of this guy.
he was a real person.....they called him 'stag' lee cause he went stag...no friends
the story everyone knows is stagger lee shot billy lyons in the belly for messing with his hat.
that story was in the papers and it is a well known fact.
i like where the legend kicks in...
the story goes he was the 'original gangster'...
he was so bad the flies didnt even fly around his head
he was so bad the cops didnt even mess with him.
here is the story from the paper...keep in mind the terms and words fit the times...it was 1895
William Lyons, 25, colored, a levee hand, living at 1410 Morgan Street, was shot in the abdomen yesterday evening at 10 o'clock in the saloon of Bill
Curtis, at Eleventh and Morgan Streets. by Lee Sheldon, also colored. Both parties, it seems, had been drinking and were feeling in exuberant
spirits. Lyons and Sheldon were friends and were talking together. The discussion drifted to politics and an argument was started, the conclusion of
which was that Lyons snatched Sheldon's hat from his head. The latter indignantly demanded its return. Lyons refused, and Sheldon drew his revolver
and shot Lyons in the abdomen. Lyons was taken to the Dispensary, where his wounds were pronounced serious. He was removed to the city hospital. At
the time of the shooting, the saloon was crowded with negroes. Sheldon is a carriage driver and lives at North Twelfth Street. When his victim fell
to the floor Sheldon took his hat from the hand of the wounded man and coolly walked away. He was subsequently arrested and locked up at the Chestnut
Street Station. Sheldon is also known as "Stag" Lee.
thats the story from the paper.......then the lore kicks in
The legend of Stagger Lee is one of the most important and enduring stories from American folklore. It is a tale that originated from
African-American oral tradition, and it also has become a very popular story within the white community.
There are many different versions of the tale, but here is the general storyline. Stagger Lee (also known as Stagolee, Stack O' Lee, 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 mercy, Stagger Lee cold-bloodedly shoots and kills his opponent.
The killer's reputation for "badness" is a key to the story. According to some classic musical recordings of the legend (such as "Mississippi"
John Hurt's "Stack O'Lee Blues"), the authorities are too frightened of Stagger Lee to arrest him for his crime. In some versions of the tale,
he is eventually caught by the authorities, but the judge refuses to sentence him to prison because he fears that the badman will strike back against
him. In certain tellings of the story, Stagger Lee appears in hell after he is killed or executed, but is so "bad" that he takes control of the
devil's kingdom and turns it into his own badman's paradise.