Frankie and Johnny

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This is an online fiddle lesson for the tune "Frankie and Johnny."  This is by special request for my friend Bob Betts.

BluegrassDaddy.com is your best source for Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!

Genre: Old Time
Skill Level: Intermediate, Advanced
Key of F

You may download and use any of the MP3s and tablature for your personal use. However, please do not make them available online or otherwise distribute them.

NOTE: If multiple fiddle lessons and MP3s are loading at once, this page will get slow! I recommend that you refresh the page each time you open a new video or MP3.

Video #1: Here is a video of me performing the fiddle tune "Frankie and Johnny."  This is an improvisation on "Frankie and Johnny."  Afterwards, I tabbed these three parts if you would like to learn what I play here.

Frankie and Johnny  -  Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle. Frankie and Johnny  -  Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle. Frankie and Johnny  -  Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

 

"Frankie and Johnny" (sometimes spelled "Frankie and Johnnie"; also known as "Frankie and Albert" or just "Frankie") is a traditional American popular song.  The song was inspired by one or more actual murders.

One of these took place in an apartment building located at 212 Targee Street in St. Louis, Missouri, at 2:00 on the morning of October 15, 1899. Frankie Baker (1876 – 1952), a 22-year-old woman, shot her 17-year-old boyfriend Allen (also known as "Albert") Britt.  In 1899, popular St Louis balladeer Bill Dooley composed "Frankie Killed Allen" shortly after the Baker murder case.  The first published version of the music to "Frankie and Johnny" appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey"; the piece, a variant version of whose melody is sung today, was titled "He Done Me Wrong" and subtitled "Death of Bill Bailey."

The song has also been linked to Frances "Frankie" Stewart Silver, convicted in 1832 of murdering her husband Charles Silver in Burke County, North Carolina. Unlike Frankie Baker, Silver was executed.

Another variant of the melody, with words and music credited to Frank and Bert Leighton, appeared in 1908 under the title "Bill You Done Me Wrong;" this song was republished in 1912 as "Frankie and Johnny," this time with the words that appear in modern folk variations.  (wikipedia.org)

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Best Online Fiddle Lessons Forums Frankie and Johnny

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 24 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #8756
    John (BGD)John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    This lesson is by special request for my good friend Bob Betts. I did this lesson a bit differently. I improvised on the performance video, tabbed out the parts that I played and then taught the lesson. Hope you enjoy!

    https://bluegrassdaddy.com/frankie-and-johnny-fiddle-lesson/

    #8796
    cricketcricket
    Participant

    Very nice! Thanks for this: I need to learn to play in something besides G D and A…here’s a great chance to start!

    #8805
    peggyspeggys
    Participant

    I think my eyebrows shot up at the mention of “F” and “B flat”! I’m with you Cricket…if it’s in my song book it’s probably in D G or A as well. I’ve tried jamming with a few people playing F and B flat, but obviously need more work on those scales because I was totally lost 😮
    Another to add to the list!

    #8808
    John (BGD)John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    Good idea! I’ll go ahead and put my request in for Daly’s Reel and President Garfield’s Hornpipe, both in Bb.

    #8881
    Great ScottGreat Scott
    Moderator

    Oh my, oh my, oh MY!!! John …. I have watched you play so many tunes on your Youtube channel and quite a few tunes here on BluegrassDaddy … but my,oh my …. this would have to be your best one EVER! If you don’t mind me saying the following: I would like to say that you imbued every bit of your heart and your soul into each and every note you played! And when you neared the end, you just seemed to become one with the music and loose yourself in another dimension! It gave me chills as I was transported to that other dimension with you as I watched and listened to you play. You appeared to enter that illusive place that many musicians sadly can only ever dream of. Man!!! I can’t stop watching this vid! Awesome experience, my friend! Simply AWESOME!!!!

    #8886
    John (BGD)John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    Scott, you are making me blush 🙂 Thank you my friend, I am glad you enjoyed the music. It is so easy to get lost in a song like that one. Sometimes I get a feeling like I could play a tune for hours and still be exploring and learning new things about it. It really is a great feeling!

    #11829
    kevinjkevinj
    Participant

    John, I just found this lesson and listened to it, and that’s what I mean by magic. I really must learn how to do that, and appreciate you tabbing out the improv — this is _exactly_ what I was talking about over in the Whiskey thread.

    At least we have a shot at copying what you’ve done, but… (you can see this question coming, right? :-)) can you teach us how to _create_ those notes in our mind (via rules, principles, etc), even if we can’t play them all.

    What wonderful playing. It was beautiful.

    Now I’m going to go back and listen to it a couple more times…

    #11840
    John (BGD)John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    The question of “why” is absolutely valid. Mimickry is not as inefficient a learning method as you might think, but still there is something in all of us that wants to know why we do what we do. I have had a gig every evening this week, but now I have tonight (Friday) night and all day Saturday to get caught up on tune requests. After that, I have some good ideas for teaching improv that I will try to get into video form, hopefully very soon.

    #12798
    Avatar1943
    Participant

    John, I just want to ditto Scott’s words!! I have watched this performance lesson many times over but have just noticed the comments now. Scott your every word is exactly how I feel about John’s playing.

    #12830
    John (BGD)John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    Aw thanks guys! That warms my heart 🙂

    #13949
    kevinjkevinj
    Participant

    Hi John, I’m wondering if you could extract the audio out of your first video file, so we could have an MP3 practice file that contained the fiddle part of the improvised melody to practice with, like you do with the other lessons? Thanks

    #13952
    RockRock
    Participant

    COOL!!!!! JOHN VERY COOL!!!!

    #13954
    JustineJustine
    Participant

    Love the way you play this! I wish I could express myself the way Scott did in describing it.

    It’s interesting to note that you can move over a string to start playing B flat when you’ve been playing in  F.

    I benefit very much from the juxtaposition of your vocal explanations, frontal playing, birds-eye hand view ,notes and tablature with the little blue ball bouncing along. This is unique to your lessons.

    The song is beyond me now, but I’m going to start on it. Thank you, John!

     

     

    #14340
    JustineJustine
    Participant

    John, for some reason, this song is not listed under your “Recent Lessons”.

    #14373
    John (BGD)John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    Kevin, I apologize for not seeing this message until now! I blame the Christmas rush! I guess that only illustrates the need for my new system of flagging unread posts. I am loving it! Hopefully it is a nice improvement to the forum. I am working on it!

    I have added the video audio to the MP3 list above. Thank you for suggesting that!

    #14393
    John (BGD)John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    That would be very helpful! My newest thing is a vertical bar to the left of the forum description that changes from gray to dark blue if there is a forum that has seen activity since your last login.

    #14402
    Great ScottGreat Scott
    Moderator

    I love your new addition of the colored side bar, John. Makes things SO easy for us! 🙂

    Thank you for adding that!

    Scott

    #14410
    RockRock
    Participant

    WOW John, Love what you have done with the place. That will make it so much simpler.

    #14424
    kevinjkevinj
    Participant

    Oh yes, I agree — the new vertical change bars go a LONG way to solving the problem! (I remember first seeing change bars in printed documents back in the 1970s in computer manuals — and they were a blessing there too.)

    Thanks again for the change bars, they really help.

     

    #14473
    John (BGD)John (BGD)
    Keymaster

    They are already saving me some time! And thanks for the heads up on the typo. You were right, it was a copy-paste error.

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