Frankie and Johnny

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

Online Fiddle Lessons Forums Frankie and Johnny

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    John (BGD)

    Thanks Kevin, that means a lot. Man, I feel bad, I have a string of lessons virtually ready to go on improvisation; I am just so far behind. I am getting my feet under me, though, and planning to really get some stuff done at BGDU this semester.

    John Tait

    Thanks John.  Your improvisation on this tune is what attracted me to the site.  You sound fabulous on the video..!!

    I’ve just printed out the notation and followed your playing and you’ve done a superb job.  This is how to teach tunes.  Well done..!!  ;-))

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by John Tait.
    John (BGD)

    Thanks John. I would like to do more like this — perform an improvisation then teach it while explaining my thought process.

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