The Famous Shoe-On-Fire Photo

The Famous Shoe-On-Fire Photo
One day at the Beale apartment, Chuck decided it was funny to light his shoe sole on fire.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Stringbean Murders

Chuck had eclectic taste in music: Sixties rock and pop, punk, r&b, and old-time country. One of his extant cassettes has Merle Haggard on one side and Curtis Mayfield on the other.

We all grew up with Hee-Haw, a sort of cheap-ass self-deprecating country comedy and music variety show, and were all familiar with Grandpa Jones, Junior Samples and the appalling Lulu. I don't know about the Barker household, but during the 70's at the Brookmans' it was the assumed viewing during the Saturday at 7 time slot. It functioned as a showcase for new and old country music talent and as a sort of last chance saloon for the dying generation of country comedians including Grandpa Jones, Minnie Pearl, and the sad clown with ultra-baggy pants and vertical eyebrows drawn on, the tragic figure of this piece, Stringbean, an excellent banjo player and singer of usually comic songs.

In 1973, Stringbean and his wife, Estelle, were gunned down in a botched robbery attempt at their cabin in Tennessee. Stringbean was known to flash wads of $100 bills, and, well, you can't do that if you want to continue living.

Who knows how he found out about it with no internet yet invented, but at least ten years later Chuck became interested in this unlikely showbiz murder and talked about it frequently for a while.  I mean...someone named Stringbean murdered...that is pretty funny particularly considering how goofy the man looked as part of his act.  I don't know how much he unearthed, but in honor of one of Chuck's many offbeat interests in this entry I present Stringbean's story and excellent coverage of his murder. Read on!

WFMU's Stringbean Page: Required Reading

Peter Cooper's More Recent Coverage of the Stringbean Murders

Once again, Chuck was on to something. Given the photographic and performance evidence, Stringbean was a great performer, and one of the last great American eccentrics.

Contemporary human morphology no doubt inspired by Stringbean!

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