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Stagger Lee by Lloyd Price

"Stagger Lee" by Lloyd Price

R&B Music

Here’s one of those golden oldies that’s really an oldie. Lloyd Price’s version of the popular traditional folk song about how Stagger Lee (aka Stagolee, Stag Lee Shelton, Stacker Lee, and other numerous variations) shot William “Billy” Lyons in St. Louis, Missouri. The song was first published in 1911 and first recorded in 1923 by Fred Warin’gs Pennsylvanians .Over the years, there have been many versions, including ones by Ma Rainey, Mississippi John Hurt, Woody Guthrei, Sonny Terry, Bob Dylan, Huey Lewis and the News, Wilson Pickett, Neil Sedaka, Neil Diamond, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Rivers, Pete Seeger, Amy Winehouse, and the list continues. Price’s version went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the R&B Chart, and #7 in the U.K. in 1959.

Price was born in Kenner, Louisiana, on March 9, 1933. He has been a singer, songwriter, bandleader, record executive, and entrepreneur. Besides “Stagger Lee,” Price had national charting success with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Personality,” “I’m Gonna Get Married,” “Question,” “Misty,” and many more. He manages Icon Food Brands, which makes Southern-style foods and has a Lawdy Miss Clawdy line of products. In 1998, Price was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Here are the lyrics to “Stagger Lee” by Lloyd Price:

The night was clear, and the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumblin’ down…

I was standin’ on the corner
When I heard my bull dog bark.
He was barkin’ at the two men
Who were gamblin’ in the dark.

It was Stagger Lee and Billy,
Two men who gambled late.
Stagger Lee threw a seven,
Billy swore that he threw eight.

Stagger Lee told Billy,
“I can’t let you go with that.
You have won all my money,
And my brand-new Stetson hat.”

Stagger Lee went home
And he got his. 44.
He said, “I’m goin’ to the ballroom
Just to pay that debt I owe.”

[Bridge:] Go, Stagger Lee

Stagger Lee went to the ballroom
And he stood across the ballroom door.
He said, “Don’t nobody move,”
And he pulled his. 44.

“Stagger Lee,” cried Billy,
“Oh, please don’t take my life!
I’ve got three little children,
And a very sickly wife.”

Stagger Lee shot Billy
Oh, he shot that poor boy so fast
Till the bullet came through Billy
And it broke the bartender’s glass.

Go, Stagger Lee, go, Stagger Lee!
Go, Stagger Lee, go, Stagger Lee!
(to fade)

To read about and listen to other songs by Lloyd Price: “I’m Gonna Get Married” and “Personality.”

For More Golden Oldies Music

The Daily Doo Wop Rec Room has daily featured doo wop, rock and roll, R&B, or rockabilly songs that were hits during the first era of rock and roll (that is, from about 1952 until the British invasion in 1964). After a song is featured, it then goes into the juke box. You are welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections there. Every weekend, there is a Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday Night, and the juke box is full of song requests from the 1950s and 1960s.

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3 Comments

  1. […] To read about and listen to another song by Lloyd Price: “Stagger Lee.” […]

  2. […] a fool for you Now over and over What more can I do?” For more songs by Lloyd Price: “Stagger Lee” and “I’m Gonna Get […]

  3. bob says:

    Very interesting history – thanks. I didn’t know it was so old and the only version I’ve ever heard is Price’s. My wife’s mother was a fan of Fred Waring & the. Pennsylvanians. My Lloyd price 45’s include “Stagger Lee”, “Personality” and “Where Were You on Our Wedding Day”.

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