Friday, December 07, 2007

Billy boy has been shot, and Stagger Lee's come out on top... (Update)

Ed over at the Old Blue Bus has put together a great series of posts about the origins and recording history of the song Stagger Lee. It's a famous American folk song based on a true story. Click here to check it out.

My first exposure to the song came in the early 1980's when I heard this excellent Clash song, which makes good use of the Stagger Lee story: The Clash - Wrong 'Em Boyo (buy album).

The most popular version of the tune is probably this one from Lloyd Price: Lloyd Price - Stagger Lee (buy album).

UPDATE - Here is the original version of Wrong 'Em Boyo that Nicolas referenced in the comments. It's interesting to hear what the Clash did with it (not much, but speed it up): Rulers - Wrong Embryo (buy album).


nicolas said...

Did you know that "Wrong 'em Boyo" is in fact a cover of a Jamaican song called "Wrong Embryo" or "Wrong Emboyo", a great ska tune by the Rulers released in 1967 ?
It is on the Trojan Ska Box Set

Another great versions of stagger Lee / Stack o Lee are the ones by Champion Jack Dupree in 1958, of course Mississippi John Hurt in 1938 and maybe my favorite, a country/folk version by Doc & Merle Watson on the fantastic album "Ballads from Deep Gap" in 1967

nicolas said...

oh my gos I made a mistake. Mississippi John Hrt's version is from 1928 on the Okeh label.

Paul said...


I assumed the Clash song was a cover of a reggae tune (based on the composer attribution) but I've never heard the original. I would love to hear it.

Thanks for checking in.