Stagger Lee

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2000 - 2010

2001. Beck releases his faithful version of Mississippi John Hurt's "Stagolee." Beck recorded it in 1994 in Sun Studios. He has an even deeper connection to the song. He says that his 1996 hit "Devil’s Haircut" was a rewrite of the Stagger Lee myth."I imagined Stagger Lee… I thought, what if this guy showed up now in 1996. The song had this Sixties grooviness, and I thought of using him as a Rumplestiltskin figure, this Lazarus figure to comment on where we've ended up as people."

The Black Keys
The Black Keys

2004. The Black Keys reimagine it once again as "Stack Shot Billy." Guitarist Dan Auerbach says, "I had Mississippi John Hurt's version and a bunch of other people's versions, and I thought, 'These guys all wrote their own versions of this song; why couldn't I do my own version?'"

2006. The story is published as an award-winning graphic novel.

2007. Modern Life is War record a heavy metal first person version of the story.

2007. Samuel L. Jackson (backed by R.L. Burnside’s grandson and "adopted" son) sings "Stagger Lee" in the film "Black Snake Moan."

2007. Keb’ Mo’s version is included on the soundtrack to John Sayles’ film "Honeydripper."

2008. Benny Profane liberally reinterprets the song as a pornographic film "Bullets and Burlesque: The Deviant Life of Stagger Lee." "It's based on the true story of 'Stagger' Lee Sheldon, the man who inspired countless folk tales, blues songs, etc. It's set in 1895 and has a really surreal look, kind of a mix between 19th century burlesque and 20th century punk rock decay."

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Singers and bands, both big and small, continue to record and perform variations of this song. Our list of artists who have recorded this song is over 400 names long. Not including multiple versions by the same artist, in the 85 years since the first recording that’s an average of 1 new recording every 10 weeks.

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