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AfriGeneas States Research Forum

[MO] "Frankie & Johnny" ~ St Louis

"Frankie Backer shot Allen Britt in the abdomen Sunday, seriously wounding him," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in a three-sentence story the next day in a column of local news found on a back page. "The shooting occurred in Britt's room at 212 Targee Ave. The woman escaped."

The initial notice of the shooting, which proved fatal, may have been small. But the incident is a leading candidate for the source of a popular song recorded by such greats as Lead Belly, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Fats Waller and Steve Wonder.

The story in "Frankie and Johnny" also was the basis of four movies with stars such as Helen Twelvetrees, Helen Morgan, Elvis Presley, Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. It tells how Frankie shot her lover Johnny three times after a bartender told her he'd seen him with a girl named Nellie Bly.

Each verse of a number of slightly different versions ends with the words, "He was her man, but he done her wrong,"

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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