It's the birth year of Ragtime music, 1895, and Lee "Stagolee" Shelton, a St. Louis pimp, murders Billy Lyons, a political gang member. Afterwards, Stagolee makes a deal with Judge Murphy to bring order to the underworld. As a member of a group of pimps called the "Stags," Stagolee makes alliances with the Democratic Party and votes for a Democratic Mayor. Later, the Stag Party, along with the Democratic Party, elects St. Louis's first black policeman. It is this policeman who is sent to arrest Stagolee for the murder of Billy Lyons. Now, nearly 50 years after singer Lloyd Price introduced mainstream audiences to the "Stagger Lee" story, Cecil Brown portrays the events that gave rise to this mainstay of African-American popular culture. This follows the successful Stagolee Shot Billy, Brown's nonfiction account of the same story.
Cecil Brown, novelist, screenwriter, and scholar, was educated at Columbia University (B.A.), University of Chicago (M.A.), and the University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D.). His other published work includes The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger, Days Without Weather, Coming Up Down Home, and Stagolee Shot Billy. Cecil Brown has been awarded a W.E. Dubois Fellowship from Harvard University. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, specializing in African-American folklore, oral narrative, and literature. In the spring of 2006, he initiated a new class, "Richard Pryor, Humor, and American Society."