Stagger Lee

Lloyd Price

About Stagger Lee

"Stagger Lee", also known as "Stagolee" and other variants, is a popular American folk song about the murder of Billy Lyons by "Stag" Lee Shelton, in St. Louis, Missouri, at Christmas, 1895. The song was first published in 1911 and first recorded in 1923, by Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians. A version by Lloyd Price reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.


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The night was clear
And the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumbling down

I was standing on the corner
When I heard my bulldog 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 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 forty-four
Said, I'm goin' to the barroom just to pay that
Debt I owe

Stagger Lee went to the barroom
And he stood across the barroom door
He said, nobody move and he pulled his

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 bad
'Till the bullet came through Billy and it broke the bar
Tender's glass

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Lloyd Price

Lloyd Price (born March 9, 1933) is an American R&B vocalist. Known as "Mr. Personality", after the name of one of his biggest million-selling hits. His first recording, "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" was a huge hit on Specialty Records in 1952, and although he continued to turn out records, none were as popular until several years later, when he refined the New Orleans beat and achieved a series of national hits. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. more »

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Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

10 facts about this song

"Stagger Lee" is based on a real-life event that took place in St. Louis, Missouri, during the late 1800s. The event involved a dispute over a Stetson hat that resulted in one man, dubbed Stagger Lee, shooting another man.
Upon its release, Lloyd Price's version of "Stagger Lee" instantly became a favorite, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959 and lingering on the chart for seventeen weeks.
Cover versions
Due to its popularity, "Stagger Lee" has been covered by numerous artists across genres, including Bob Dylan, James Brown, Pat Boone, and The Clash, illuminating the song's versatile appeal.
Broad Interpretation
Considering its subject matter, "Stagger Lee" has been interpreted as a song about a folk hero, a villain, a victim of circumstances, or simply as a story about a deadly confrontation.
Title Variations
The song has been recorded under various titles including "Stack-A-Lee," "Stackerlee," "Stackolee," and "Stack O'Lee," highlighting variations in the pronunciations and spellings used over time.
Music style
The song "Stagger Lee" is primarily considered rhythm and blues or R&B. However, due to its wide range of cover versions, it's been adopted into genres like soul, rock and roll, country, and punk.
Historical Preservation
In 2017, Lloyd Price's version of "Stagger Lee" was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.”
Because of its violent theme, some radio stations in the US either banned the song or played a version with altered lyrics, this didn't stop the song from reaching number one on the US pop charts.
Song Credits
The song credits for Lloyd Price's version of "Stagger Lee" are shared between Harold Logan and Lloyd Price. They gave the traditional folk tale a unique twist for the 1958 recording.
Impact on Popular Culture
Stagger Lee has transcended the world of music to influence popular culture. Variations of Stagger Lee have appeared in books, movies, and even video games, establishing its significance within pop culture narratives.

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    Stagger Lee

    417     79

    Top Hot 100 Songs 1959

    Billboard #1



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