Little Sadie

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The Rosinators - Will Sneyd, Fliss Premru & Paul Castle

Little Sadie
trad arr. by The Rosinators
Paul Castle, vocals, banjo, acoustic guitar
Will Sneyd, fiddle, vocals; Fliss Premru, fiddle, vocals

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Lyrics/Song history research on other recordings by The Rosinators

Old Joe Clark
Orange Blossom Special
One Kind Favour
I Saw the Light (Hank Williams)
In My Time of Dyin'
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Cindy's Breakdown (aka Get Along Home Cindy)
Joli Blon (aka Jolie Blonde)
Looking for the Stone (aka Daniel Saw The Stone)
Poncho's Lament (Tom Waits)


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The Rosinators on the Leftfield Stage at the Glastonbury Festival 2005
The Rosinators - Will Sneyd, Fliss Premru and Paul Castle - on the Leftield Stage
Glastonbury Festival, 2005.

"When American roots music deejays rave about bluegrass
passion,Cajun verve and country-gospel authenticity, you
know that The Rosinators are the real deal. From deep in
the heart of Balham Alligator territory, the London-based
trio have added their own stamp to the American old time
tradition so convincingly that most of their radio airplay
comes from US stations. Formed in 2001, they blazed out of
the traps with dynamic three-part vocal harmonies and fiery
twin-fiddle attacks driven by crackin' guitar picking."
[Acoustic Music Centre - Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Aug 2005]
see reviews

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Little Sadie

1. Went out last night for to make a little round
I met Little Sadie and I blowed her down
Went back home and I got into bed
Forty-four smokeless under my head

2. Woke up next mornin' bout a half past nine
The hacks and the buggies all standing in line
Gents and the gamblers all standing around
Taking Little Sadie to her burying ground

3. And I got to thinkin' what a deed I done
I grabbed my hat and away I run
Made a good run, but a little to slow
They overtook me in Jericho

4. I's a standing on the corner reading the bill
When up stepped the sheriff from Thomasville
Said, "Young man, ain't your name Brown?
Remember that night you blowed Sadie down."

5. I said "Yes Sir, my name is Lee
I murdered little Sadie in the first degree
First degree and second degree
If you got any papers, won't you read 'em to me?"

6. They took me downtown and dressed me in black
Put me on a train and they sent me back
Crammed me back into the Thomasville Jail
Got no money for to go my bail

7. The judge and the jury they took the stand
The judge held the papers in his right hand
Forty-one days, forty-one nights
Forty-one years to wear the ball and stripes
Forty-one years to wear the ball and stripes

COUNTRY MUSIC SONG LYRICS - links to Bluegrass,
Cajun, Country Blues and Gospel Country song lyrics

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Song History

"Little Sadie"

~ variants also known as
"Bad Lee Brown", "Bad Man Ballad", "East St. Louis Blues",
"Late One Night", "Chain Gang Blues", "Bad Man's Blunder",
"Penitentiary Blues", "Cocaine Blues", and "Transfusion Blues"

Digital Tradition Folk Song Database
Sheet music and lyrics

From the "Traditional Ballad Index"

Bad Lee Brown (Little Sadie) [Laws I8]
DESCRIPTION: The singer goes out one night to "make his rounds."
He meets his (girlfriend/wife), Little Sadie, and shoots her. He flees,
but is overtaken and sentenced to (a long prison term/life)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1922 (Randolph) see below
see full entry here

According to the above the earliest reference to the "Bad Lee Brown"
variant of the song dates from 1922 and appears in Vance Randolph's
Ozark Folksongs, Vol. II (1948, pp. 117-118):

Sung by Miss Billie Freese, Joplin, Mo., Apr. 17, 1922. Miss Freese
learned it from her boy-friend, a native of West Plains, Mo.

Last night I was a-makin' my rounds,
Met my old woman an' I blowed her down,
I went on home to go to bed,
Put my old cannon right under my head.

Jury says murder in the first degree,
I says oh Lord, have mercy on me!
Old Judge White picks up his pen,
Says you'll never kill no woman ag'in.

The first known recording of "Little Sadie" was in 1930 by
Clarence "Tom" Ashley

Little Sadie by Clarence "Tom" Ashley

It was reissued in 2001 on the album 'Greenback Dollar -
The Music of Clarence "Tom" Ashley 1929 - 1933
Available from
Clarence "Tom" Ashley was an extremely colorful character
with a fascinating career in rural entertainment that spanned
over half a century. He traveled extensively on the medicine
show circuit, helped give Roy Acuff his early training, and
was still appearing at fiddlers’ conventions in the 1960s
when folklorists Ralph Rinzler and Eugene Earle discovered
a then-unknown Doc Watson playing in his band. Surprisingly,
Ashley has not been that well represented on record recently,
perhaps because he is considered to be more of an entertainer
and "character" than a musician. But from listening to this
impressive 20-song collection one will quickly find that he
had considerable talents as a banjo player and very distinctive
singer. His vocal & banjo solos such as LITTLE SADIE and
COO COO BIRD—all 6 of which are found here—are
stunning and some of the classics of recorded old-time music.
His work with Byrd Moore’s Hot Shots and the Carolina Tar
Heels, and his duets with Gwen Foster are all superior &
almost unique in their individuality. A wonderful set of notes
by Joe Wilson highlights this superb and important re-issue.

The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip

The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip

Nearly 25 hours of recordings featuring 300 performers that
John and Ruby Lomax recorded during their three-month trip
through the southern United States in 1939

"Bad Man Ballad"
performed by Willie Rayford -
recorded at Cummins State Farm, near Varner, Arkansas ; May 21, 1939

Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley 1960 - 62 (Folkways Records)

Ashley recorded the song again in Chicago in 1962 with Doc Watson
on guitar on an album called "Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley's,
Vol 2" released on Folkways Records in 1963 and reissued in 1994 as
"The Original Folkways Recordings of Doc Watson and Clarence
Ashley 1960 - 1962" [Disc 1] (Smithsonian Folkways)

With 20 previously unreleased performances, many rare photos, and
producer Ralph Rinzler's comprehensive notes, this is the definitive
collection of two earlier volumes entitled Old Time Music at Clarence
Ashley's. These LP's introduced the world to Doc Watson and played an
important role in the folk revival of the '60s. Featured are Gaither Carlton,
Clint Howard, Fred Price, Jack Burchett, and others. Compiled by Ralph
Rinzler, Matt Walters and Jeff Place. Annotated by Ralph Rinzler. "Soul
pours out of these unschooled folk musicians..." -- SF Chronicle

Listen to Doc Watson sing "Little Sadie"
live at Gerdes Folk City in New York
(1962) on
NPR's All Songs Considered

Doc Watson - Little Sadie

Remembering The Old Songs:


by Lyle Lofgren

(Originally published: Inside Bluegrass, January 2002)

Outlaw as Folk Hero is an old theme in the Anglo-American tradition,
probably dating from before the Robin Hood stories. America developed
a second idea, that of Outlaw as Psychopath, a truly Bad Man. Stagolee
and John Hardy come to mind, as well as Lee Brown, the narrator of
today's story. Versions of this song were found throughout the south,
particularly in Appalachia and the Ozarks. The tunes vary, but the
story is remarkably stable. Lee Brown shoots his woman, runs away,
is caught, tried, and gets a long sentence. He has no remorse, other
than that he is jailed. One writer says this song was very popular as
early as 1885, but I couldn't find the source of that claim. There are
lots of towns in America with the names given in the song, but
Thomasville and Jericho, North Carolina are only 60 miles apart,
which make them prime candidates for locale. There's no reason
to believe this song is literal history, though. A cursory search
shows no information on a real Lee Brown, or any evidence that
the song describes an actual murder. (continued here)

The Folk Music Index lists the following book/
recordings references:

Little Sadie [Laws I 8] Rt - Bad/Badman Lee Brown

1. Miller Jr., E. John; & Michael Cromie / Folk Guitar,
    Quadrangle, Bk (1968), p109
2. Ashley, Clarence (Thomas/Tom)). Old-Time Music at Clarence
    Ashley's, Part 2, Folkways FA 2359, LP (1963/?), cut# 2
3. Ashley, Clarence (Thomas/Tom)). Sing Out! Reprints, Sing Out,
    Sof (196?), 9, p35
4. Ashley, Clarence (Thomas/Tom)). Asch, Moses (ed.) / 124 Folk
    Songs as Sung and Recorded on Folkways Reco,
    Robbins Music, Fol (1965), p125
5. Bailey, Hobart. Rosenbaum, Art / Old-Time Mountain Banjo, Oak,
    sof (1968), p56
6. Dr. Corn's Bluegrass Remedy. It'll Tickle Your Innards, Grassroots
    GR 004, LP (1977), cut#B.03
7. Erbsen, Wayne. Erbsen, Wayne / Manual on How to Play the 5-String
    Banjo for the com...., Erbsen, sof (1974), p35
8. Foreacre, Louise. Stoneman Family Old Time Songs, Folkways
    FA 2315, Cas (1957/?), cut# 12
9. Freight Hoppers. Where'd You Come From, Where'd You Go?,
    Rounder 0403, CD (1996), cut# 4
10. Grossman, Stefan. Grossman, Stefan / Book of Guitar Tunings,
      Amsco, Sof (1972), p66
11. Jarrell, Tommy. Rainbow Sign, County 791, LP (1984), cut# 4
12. Keith, Bill. Trischka, Tony / Melodic Banjo, Oak, Sof (1976), p 35
13. May, William. Folksongs and Ballads, Vol 4, Augusta Heritage
      AHR 010, Cas (1992/?), cut#B.06 (Sweet Sadie)
14. Michael, Walt; & McCreesh, Tom. Dance Like a Wave on the Sea,
      Front Hall FHR-017, LP (1978), cut#A.05
15. Muller, Eric. Muller, Eric & Barbara Koehler / Frailing the 5-String
      Banjo, Mel Bay, Sof (1973), p56
16. Perlman, Ken. Perlman, Ken (ed.) / Fingerstyle Guitar,
     Spectrum Books, Sof (1980), p129
17. Rice, Tony. Rice, Tony / Tony Rice Guitar, Rice, fol (1984), p59
18. Ward, Wade. Roscoe Holcomb and Wade Ward, Folkways
      FA 2363, LP (1962/field), cut#B.09
19. Watson, Doc. Doc Watson on Stage, Vanguard VSD 9/10,
      LP (1970), cut# 22
20. West, Hedy; and Bill Clifton. Getting Folk Out of the Country,
      Bear Family BF 15008, LP (198?/1972), cut# 4

Little Sadie

Comprehensive List of Recordings 1930 - 2005

Year / Artist / Album Title (Label)

1930 - Clarence Ashley (Columbia 15522-D, on RoughWays1)
1939 - Clarence "Tom Ashley / Various Artists / My Rough And
           Rowdy Ways: Early American Rural Music. Badman Balads
           And Hellraising Songs, Vol. 1
1957 - Louise Foreacre / The Stoneman Family - Sutphin, Foreacre,
          and Dickens: Old-Time Tunes of the South (Folkways Records)
1962 - Wade Ward / Music of Roscoe Holcomb and Wade Ward
          (Folkways Records)
1963 - Clarence "Tom" Ashley with Doc Watson / Old Time Music at
           Clarence Ashley's, Vol 2 (Folways Records)
1963 - Clarence "Tom" Ashley / Various Artists / Old Time Music at
           Newport-1963-Newport Folk Festival
1966 - Liz Getz / How Can I Keep From Singing (Folkways Records)
1967 - Paul Jones / Love Me Love My Friends
1969 - Grateful Dead / Mojo
1969 - Grateful Dead / Filmore Auditorium 12/19/1969 (Disc 1)
1969 - Grateful Dead / 12-26-69, McFarlin Auditorium, S.M.U., Dallas, TX
1969 - The Blue Velvet Band / Sweet Moments With The Blue Velvet Band
           (WEA International)
1970 - Bob Dylan / Self Portrait (Sony)
1970 - Doc Watson / Doc Watson on Stage (Vanguard)
1970 - Trees / On The Shore
1970 - Grateful Dead / 1/31/70 The Wharehouse - New Orleans, Louisiana (Disc 2)
1972 - Hedy West & Bill Clifton / Getting Folk Out Of The Country
           (Bear Family Records)
1975 - DOC Watson & SON / Doc Watson & Son (Vanguard)
1980 - Grateful Dead / 80-10-31 - Radio City
1982 - Jerry Garcia / 04.10.82 Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ (early show)
1982 - Jerry Garcia & John Kahn / 06/04/82 Neighbors Of Woodcraft
           Portland, OR (Late Show)
1985 - Tony Rice Unit / 6/23/85 Tony Rice Unit, Telluride, CO
1985 - Jerry Garcia & John Kahn / The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA 10-16-1985
1986 - Jerry Garcia & John Kahn / Garcia/Kahn 1/27/86 The Ritz, NYC
1987 - Tony Rice / Manzanita (Rounder Records)
1987 - Jerry Garcia Band / jgb 87/08/29 French's Camp (Acoustic) 1
1988 - Doc Watson / On Stage (Vanguard)
1988 - Acoustic All-Stars / 1988-01-23 (Disc 2)
1989 - Daniel Lanois / The Maker
1990 - Michael J Miles / Counterpoint (RTOR)
1991 - Tony Rice / Tony Rice Unit-Live Pawling NY 1991
1992 - Tony Rice / Tony Rice Unit
1993 - Garcia, Grisman, And Rice / The Pizza Tapes
1993 - David Grisman / Early Dawg
1994 - Doc Watson & Clarence Ashley / Original Folkways Recordings 1960 - 1962
           [Disc 1] (Smithsonian Folkways)
1994 - The South Loomis Quickstep Band / Collector's Edition
1995 - Gaither Carlton / Various Artists / High Atmosphere (Rounder Records)
1995 - Doc Watson / The Vanguard Years (Disc 2)
1995 - Bill Keith With Jim Rooney /Various Artists /
           Folk Music At Newport Part 1 (Vanguard)
1996 - The Freighthoppers / Where'd You Come From Where'd You Go?
           (Rounder Records)
1996 - Tony Rice / Teaches Bluegrass Guitar
1997 - Golden Delicious / Various Artists / Used To Be -
           Blues From The Pacific Delta For Bill Monroe
1997 - Wayne Erbsen / A Manual On How To Play The 5 String Banjo
           For The Complete Ignoramus (Pembroke Music Co. New York)
1998 - The Radiators / Live At The Great American Music Hall
1998 - The Sadies / Precious Moments
1998 - Wooden Leg / Various Artists / Edges from the Postcard 2
1998 - Dan Crary / Flat Picker's Guide
1998 - Dana Robinson & Lui Collins / Paired Down
           (Molly Gamblin Music and Threshold Music)
1999 - Doc Watson / The Best Of Doc Watson 1964-1968 (Vanguard)
1999 - Mark Lanegan / I'll Take Care Of You (Sub Pop)
1999 - Golden Delicious / Live At The Laurelthirst (Cavity Search)
2000 - Jerry Garcia, David Grisman & Tony Rice / The Pizza Tapes (Accoustic Disc)
2000 - Tim O'Brien & Darrell Scott / Real Time
2000 - Dana Robinson / The Trade (Threshold Music)
2000 - Misty River / Rising
2001 - Clarence "Tom" Ashley / Greenback Dollar - The Music of
           Clarence Ashley 1929-1933
2001 - Doc Watson / At Gerdes Folk City
2001 - Black Twig Pickers / North Fork Flyer
2001 - Hadacol / All In Your Head (Slewfoot)
2001 - Uncle Henry's Favorites / Old Time String Band Music
2002 - Clarence Ashley / Various Artists / The Other Anthology of
           American Folk Music (Disc 4) (Sheep Shaggers)
2002 - John Renbourn / Faro Annie (Sanctuary)
2002 - The Sadies / Various Artists / Making Singles Drinking Doubles
           (Bloodshot Records)
2002 - Doug Wallin / Various Artists / Sodom Laurel Album:
           Appalachian Ballads From Madison County, North Carolina
2002 - Dave Grant, Various Artists / From The Low Note
2002 - Lee Knight / From The Appalachains (spiritsounds studio)
2002 - Tommy Jarrell / Vol. 2-Legacy Of Tommy Jarrell (County)
2003 - Doc Watson / Trouble In Mind / Country Blues Collection 1964-1998
2003 - Clarence Ashley / Various Artists / Classic Old-Time Music from
           Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (Smithsonian Folkways)
2003 - David Lindley Y Wally Ingram / Twango Bango III
2003 - Hilarie Burhans/Clawhammer Banjo / Put On The Skillet
2003 - Adam Granger / Various Artists / DocFest (FGM Records)
2004 - Grateful Dead / Reckoning (Disc 2)
2004 - Kitchen Syncopators / Yazoo City Strugglers
2005 - Liz Carlisle / Five Star Day
2005 - Sam Mann Of Alligator / Various Artists / Jerry Jams, Jerry Cares

2005 - John Doyle / Wayward Son (Compass Records)
2005 - Troublesome Creek String Band / Fast as Time Can Take Me (County)
2005 - Sankofa Strings / In Sule's Garage: Live at The Flagstaff Folk Festival
           June 11, 2005
2005 - The Monogram / Siesta
2005 - The Rosinators / One Kind Favour / Little Sadie / Just Can't Keep
           From Cryin' (PDC Music)

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Sheet Music, Tabs, DVDs & Books

Doc Watson - Flatpicking With Doc (DVD)

Doc Watson - Flatpicking With Doc [DVD]

This unique lesson with the incomparable Doc Watson provides
detailed instruction for thirteen of his most popular songs and
instrumentals: Ragtime Annie, Salt Creek, Little Sadie, More Pretty
Girls Than one, Sweet Georgia Brown, Goodnight Waltz, New River
Train, and more. Steve Kaufman provides back-up and ‘twin’ guitar
parts, and Doc is joined by his grandson, Richard Watson, for three
duets: Walk On Boy, Chicago Blues, and Summertime.

Buy now from or

Tony Rice Teaches Bluegrass Guitar (Book & CD)

Tony Rice Teaches Bluegrass Guitar -
A Master Picker Analyzes His Pioneering Licks and Solos
[Book with CD]

Tony Rice is known world-wide for his spectacular technique,
brilliant improvisation and powerful soloing. In this lesson, he
personally passes on to you the style he has developed during
his two decades as the top bluegrass flatpicker of his generation.
In careful detail, Tony analyzes licks, runs, solos and rhythm
parts to hot bluegrass songs and fiddle tunes that will challenge
and delight all flatpickers. Before long you'll be picking solos
to the following essential bluegrass tunes: Red Haired Boy -
Little Sadie - Your Love Is like a Flower - Blue Railroad
Train - Home from the Forest - Wildwood Flower - Old Train -
Wild Horse - and Jerusalem Ridge.

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Parking Lot Pickers Songbook (Mandolin edition)

Parking Lot Picker's Songbook - Mandolin Edition
[Spiral-bound book + 2 CDs]

A collection of over 225 great Bluegrass, Old Time, Country and
Gospel standards [including Little Sadie]; Melodies are presented
with standard notation and tablature along with lyrics and chords.
Learn to play songs written and recorded by the giants of
traditional American music: Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers,
Flatt & Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, The Osborne Brothers, Jimmy
Martin, Doc Watson and many more. Also included: Step-by-Step
instruction on how to transpose and song to any key! The two CDs
include recordings of EVERY song in the book.

Buy now from or

The Definitive Dylan Songbook (Bob Dylan) (Paperback)

The Definitive Dylan Songbook (Bob Dylan)
[Paperback book]

The complete songbook - Now with every song together in one
giant volume, the ultimate Dylan songbook features over 329
tunes including all of his greatest hits as well as his lesser-known
work. With melody line, chord symbols and full lyrics. Songs
include Blowin in the Wind, Forever Young, Just Like a Woman,
Mr. Tambourine Man, She Belongs to Me, Tangled Up in Blue,
The Times They Are Changin , Visions of Johanna, Little Sadie
and hundreds more.

Buy now from or

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Note: If you have any comments about this page or can suggest
additional links or stories to add to this research, please write to
Paul Castle

Lyrics/Song history research on other recordings by The Rosinators

Old Joe Clark
Orange Blossom Special
One Kind Favour
I Saw the Light (Hank Williams)
In My Time of Dyin'
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Cindy's Breakdown (aka Get Along Home Cindy)
Joli Blon (aka Jolie Blonde)
Looking for the Stone (aka Daniel Saw The Stone)
Poncho's Lament (Tom Waits)

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