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Just Walkin' in the Rain: The True Story of the Prisonaires: the Convict Pioneers of R & B and Rock & Roll Hardcover – February, 2001
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From Library Journal
In 1943, 16-year-old Johnny Bragg was sentenced to six consecutive life terms in the Tennessee State Prison for raping his girlfriend. Rather than wither in anger, the teenager joined the prison's gospel group, the Prisonaires, and wrote the hits "Just Walkin' in the Rain" and "Rolling Stone." (None other than Elvis Presley was a fan of the group's vocal style.) Warner, a Grammy Award-winning music publisher and author of The Billboard Book of American Singing Groups, 1940-1990, relates Bragg's tale with sensitivity. Most intriguing is his coverage of Bragg's relationship with progressive white prison warden James Edwards and former Governor of Tennessee Frank Clement, who pardoned Bragg in 1959. The two officials unabashedly believed that rehabilitation was in everyone's best interest, and Bragg's story demonstrates why. Recommended for music libraries, especially those in the South, as well as social science collections.DWilliam G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
accused of 4 more rapes.The original charge was dropped, when girl
admitted she lied.he was sentenced to 4 life sentences. Wound up in
Tenn. State Prison.Thanks to the liberal polocies of GOV.Frank Clement,
Johnny & his group ( The Prisonaires )were allowed to leave the prison
to record at Sun Studios and perform at various shows.
Johnny Bragg wrote and recorded " JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN. "
Most people think that Johnny Ray was the first to record this song.
Believe It or not, he was paroled twice.
Not often can a story about a rock and roll legend be called 'inspirational'. The tragedy of rock genius thrown into the propellers spans the decades from Johnny Act to Kurt Cobain. But the story of Johnny Bragg is, indeed, one that offers hope for all, no matter where life has taken you. And it's told wonderfully by rock historian Jay Warner in his new book, "Just Walkin' In The Rain", named after the Johnny Ray hit written by Bragg.
With a false accusation of rape made by a girlfriend which led to convictions on six 99 year sentences, surviving to near middle age might have been more than he could have expected. (Bragg was a poor Black man fighting the Tennessee Judicial System in the 50's.) Instead, his musical ability brought him together with an inmate singing group which he would rename "The Prisonaires". His talent brought a polish to the group's sound. Their work led Governor Frank Clement ( a Southern liberal Democrat, of all things) to become the group's greatest advocate (and Bragg's personal patron saint) in order to prove that all men, regardless of their past, were capable of redemption. And the Governor's effort to showcase the group at numerous state functions led to radio appearances and, ultimately, a career as hit recording artists...and encounters with everyone from Elvis to Margaret Truman...all while in prison.
Bragg's story is a wild ride that Warner details with expertise and love. Everytime that it looks like Bragg has been dealt nothing but 3's and 8's, an ace or two always seems to wind up in his hand, so continually does a Divine hand appear to be intervening in his life.
To be sure, the racial climate of the South at that time and Bragg's own worst tendencies keep this from having a Frank Capra ending. Still, if you're looking for a story that shows how misfortune can often be the first sign of a miracle (or if you want to check out an essential part of rock's beginnings), this is it!
and still very real in this day and age even in the DNA era of the law,still this is something else.
what a important musical figure and the stories that emerged through these songs
and getting another chance. this is a must read indeed.