Unprepared To Die

Press Release

Unprepared To Die

America’s greatest murder ballads and the true crime stories that inspired them

by Paul Slade




* Published: November 2015
* Binding: Paperback
* ISBN: 9780992948078
* 8 page plates section
* Price: £16.99





The True Crimes Behind America’s Greatest Murder Ballads

Cheerfully vulgar and revelling in gore, murder ballads are tabloid newspapers set to music, carrying word of the latest ‘orrible murders to an insatiable public. Victims are bludgeoned, stabbed or shot in every verse and killers often hanged, but the songs themselves never die. Instead, they mutate – morphing to suit local place names as they criss cross the Atlantic (often beginning life in Britain) and continue to fascinate each generation’s biggest musical stars. Journalist Paul Slade traces this fascinating genre’s history via its greatest songs in a gripping new book.

Slade investigates eight real-life murders which inspired these well-known ballads and uncovers many startling new facts about them. Billy Bragg, The Bad Seeds’ Mick Harvey, Laura Cantrell, Rennie Sparks of The Handsome Family, Dave Alvin and a host of other leading musicians add their own insights to make this unique factual book as unputdownable as any fictional thriller. It will appeal to fans of both music and true crime.

Ballads covered: Stagger Lee, Frankie & Johnny, Knoxville Girl, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, Tom Dooley, Pretty Polly, Poor Ellen Smith, Murder Of The Lawson Family.

“Compulsive stuff.” – Ian Anderson, fRoots.

For more information, please contact Phil Godsell at Soundcheck Books; phil@soundcheckbooks.co.uk  or call +44 (0)7880 792259