BETTY AND DUPREE (DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES)
“Betty and Dupree,” had many incarnations in American folk tradition. It was based upon
a true incident: The biography of the man and his crimes may be summarized as follows:
Frank Dupree grew up in Abbeville, South Carolina. He came on the scene in December
1921 in Atlanta, Georgia, where he had a gal Betty. In trying to appropriate a diamond for
her in a jewelry store he shot a policeman down. Fleeing to Memphis and later to
Chicago, where he was cornered, he killed a policeman and wounded several more. He
was caught while getting his mail and sent to Atlanta for trial. He was executed for
murder on September 1, 1922.
Dupree was a bandit; he was so brave and bol’;
He stoled a diamond ring for some of Betty’s jelly roll
Betty told Dupree, “I want a diamond ring.”
Dupree told Betty, “l’Il give you most anything.”
He said, “Lie down, little Betty, see what tomorrow brings,”
It may bring sunshine, may bring you that diamond ring.
Michigan water taste like cherry wine,
The reason I know: Betty drink it all the time.
I’m going away to the end of the railroad track
Nothing but sweet Betty can bring me back
Then he got his pistol, went to the jewelry store,
Killed a policeman and he wounded four or five more.
Then he went to the post office to get the evening mail
Sheriff caught poor Dupree and put him in that old Atlanta jail.
Dupree tol’ the lawyer, “Clear me if you can
For I have money to back me, sure as I’m a man
The lawyer tol’ Dupree, You are a very brave man
But I think you will go to jail and hang”
Dupree tol’ the judge, “I am not so brave and bol’
But all I wanted was Betty’s jelly roll
The judge tol’ Dupree, “Jelly roll’s gonna be your ruin
“No, no, judge, for that is what I done quit doing