It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


the story of stagger lee

page: 1

log in


posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 09:24 AM
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 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 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.


posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 09:29 AM
according to folklore experts, Stagger Lee was a symbol of resistance and freedom to African-Americans. This was because, while southern blacks had to abide by the twisted laws and customs which created segregation and the Jim Crow system, Stagger Lee defied white authority and was so "bad" that he could get away with it. He was an admired figure whose legend revolved around his badness, a badness which put him above the white man's law and allowed him to pass freely through the racial boundaries established by Jim Crow.

According to Brown, Shelton was a hustler whose job as a carriage driver allowed him to engage in more lucrative activities such as pimping. he was also active politically as a member of a group of black pimps known as the "Stag Party". Apparently this is how Shelton came to be known as "Stag" Lee.


i found this doing an image search. its an artist representation of stagger lee. im printing an 8x10 of this today and framing it for my living room

posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 12:31 PM
a reply to: Grovit

Ah, I love the story of Stagger Lee! Robert Anton Wilson touched on some of these African-American Folklore stories in this book Coincidance (the misspelling is on purpose). It was there that I also learned about another similar story from African-American oral tradition about a black man that survived the Titanic called Shine. This one isn't based on any true historical character as far as I know....But it's a fun read!

Here's a LINK of the story (or at least one of the versions as oral traditions are known to change small details through retellings)
edit on 14-11-2014 by bhornbuckle75 because: Mahabone

posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 01:12 PM
a reply to: bhornbuckle75

never heard the story of shine.

i wish there was more info on stagger lee.

i got that picture printed at walgreens...its on my wall right now next to a picture of buckethead

posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 02:41 PM
a reply to: Grovit

So he was the Suge Knight of the 1800's?

I grew up listening to Lloyd Price's "Stagger Lee" on an oldies tape I had. Always wondered what that song was about.

posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 03:26 PM

originally posted by: ItCameFromOuterSpace
a reply to: Grovit

So he was the Suge Knight of the 1800's?

I grew up listening to Lloyd Price's "Stagger Lee" on an oldies tape I had. Always wondered what that song was about.

in a way i guess....he was a pimp and a hustler..he just didnt mess around...
didnt take # from white people and back then, that was a huge deal

posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 07:21 PM
a reply to: Grovit

I've come across the name many times as well, always a bad Mo-Fo. Woody Guthrie's versions "Stagger, and Stack-O-Lee" and other traditional versions as Stacker Lee in American Folk Music.

Here is Nick Cave's: Nice thread.

Video doesn't want to work.

edit on 14-11-2014 by ugmold because: fix video

edit on 14-11-2014 by ugmold because: video again

posted on Nov, 14 2014 @ 07:23 PM
a reply to: ugmold

there is a thread i started in the music forum with a bunch of artists covering stagger lee.

in particular i like the black keys version and sam jacksons....

i wish there was more info out there about stag lee.
lots of sites but they all say pretty much the same stuff

new topics

top topics


log in