Frankie and Johnny is the title of a traditional American song also known as Frankie and Johnny were Lovers , Frankie and Albert or simply Frankie . She has become a standard for jazz , blues and country music . The lyrics tell the story of a woman named Frankie who surprises her companion Johnny in the bed of another. She kills him and ends up, depending on the version, imprisoned or executed.

The melody of this song is borrowed from another older piece. The first published version is that of Hughie Cannon in 1904 entitled He Done Me Wrong, Death of Bill Bailey . Another variant is Bill You Done Me Wrong by Frank and Bert Leighton in 1908 , reissued as Frankie and Johnnie in 1912 . In 1958 , Gene Vincent created a rock version of the title.

The more or less definitive lyrics of the song appeared in the 1925 collection Dorothy Parker’s On the Trail of Negro Folksongs under the title Frankie and Albert . A version titled Frankie and Johnny was finally published in The American Songbag by Carl Sandburg in 1927 .

According to some musicologists, the theme would be much older. Carl Sandburg claims that she was known before 1888 , Leonard Feather wrote in her Encyclopedia of Jazz that she was sung during the American Civil War at the Battle of Vicksburg ( 1863 ), and John Jacob Niles says she appeared before 1830 .

In 1966 , Frankie and Johnny became the title of a film Frederick De Cordova in which Elvis Presley takes up the famous song.


At least 256 artists have performed this song. One of the oldest known recordings is that of Frank Crumit with The Biese Trio published as a single in 1921 1 .

Other versions include: Lead Belly, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob McCoy, Roscoe Holcomb, Big Bill Broonzy, Bob Dylan, Frank Crumit, Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger, Mississippi Joe Callicott, Charlie Patton, Charlie Poole, Sam Cooke, Lena Horne, Lonnie Donegan, Fats Waller, Michael Bloomfield, Benton Brook, Lindsay Lohan, Chris Smither, Jack Johnson, Burl Ives.

  • Mississippi John Hurt on the single Frankie (1928);
  • Bessie Smith ( Frankie Blues );
  • Jimmie Rodgers on the single Everybody Does It in Hawaii (1929);
  • Duke Ellington ;
  • Erroll Garner ;
  • Sidney Bechet and Claude Luter ;
  • Lena Horne (single, 1949);
  • Louis Armstrong ;
  • Pearl Bailey ;
  • Joe Liggins ( Frankie Lee );
  • Gene Vincent on the album Gene Vincent Rocks! And the Blue Caps Roll (1958);
  • Jerry Lee Lewis ;
  • Johnny Cash ( Frankie’s Man, Johnny) ;
  • Sam Cooke (1963)
  • Elvis Presley (single, 1966);
  • Stevie Wonder ;
  • Merle Haggard on Same Train a Different Time (1969);
  • Hank Snow on Hank Snow Sings in Memory of Jimmie Rodgers (1970);
  • Champion Jack Dupree ;
  • Taj Mahal (blues) ;
  • David Olney on Top to Bottom (1991);
  • Corey Harris on Fish Is not Bitin ‘ (1997);
  • Doc Watson and David Grisman on Doc & Dawg (1997);
  • Van Morrison with Lonnie Donegan and Chris Barber on The Skiffle Sessions – Live In Belfast 1998 (2000).


  • Johnny Hallyday , on a French adaptation by Manou Roblin (after the rock version of Gene Vincent ), in 1964 , album Johnny, come back! The most terrible Rocks ; Paul Person takes it back in 1985 on the album 24/24

There are other French versions of this song, in List of French songs whose title has a first name

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Second Hand Songs  [ archive ]