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'Stagger' Lee Shelton
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    (March 16, 1865-March 11, 1912)
    Born in Texas
    Also known as ‘Stag’ Lee, ‘Stack’ Lee and ‘Stacker’ Lee
    Carriage driver in St. Louis, Missouri
    Fatally shot Billy Lyon during a dispute in a St. Louis saloon (December 25, 1895)
    Convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison (1897)
    Inspired the folksong ‘Stagger Lee’
    He was also a pimp and a gambler.
    There are several contradictory stories of how he got ‘Stag’/’Stack’ as a nickname.
    He shot Lyons after Lyons grabbed his hat and refused to give it back.
    He was paroled (1909), but was back in jail two years later for assault and robbery.
    In folk legend, he became a symbol of resistance to white authority, even though his murder victim was a fellow African-American.
    At one point during the argument, Lyons took a knife from his pocket, declared, ‘You son of a bitch, I’m going to make you kill me,’ then walked towards Shelton.
    There was enough debate about whether he was acting in self-defense to produce a hung jury at his first trial (1896).
    He died of tuberculosis in jail.
    Hundreds of versions of ‘Stagger Lee’ have been recorded, notably a #1 hit by Lloyd Price.

Credit: C. Fishel

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