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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,John Garst Frankie and Johnny - historical basis (41) RE: Frankie and Johnny - historical basis 20 Jan 07

Phil Cooper wrote:

>Also check the book The Rose & the Briar for their essay on the background of the song.

I advise caution. Without citing evidence, this essay states, "Britt's given name was Albert, but he was also known as 'Allen.'"

I have found no evidence of this. He is Allen, apparently, in all official records. Frankie Baker is quoted as saying that he liked to be called "Albert" but even this is suspect. She might well have said "Al Britt" and been misheard as saying "Albert." There is testimony that he was called "Al." It is highly probable that such a mishearing is responsible for the appearance of "Albert" in the ballad.

One or two collected versions begin

"Frankie Baker was a good girl"

instead of the more common

"Frankie was a good girl"

If one whole name was used then the other probably was, too, something like

"Al Britt's suit of clothes"

misheard as

"Albert's suit of clothes"

Consistent with the hypothesis of early whole name use is the treatment of Alice Pryor, the "other woman." Her whole name is almost always given, though never entirely correctly. She is "Alice Pry, "Alice Bly," "Nellie Bly," etc.

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