Johnny Rebel (singer)

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This article is about the American country singer Johnny Rebel. For the national personification of the Confederate States of America soldier, see Johnny Reb. For other uses of the term Johnny Rebel or Johnny Reb, see Johnny Reb (disambiguation).
Johnny Rebel
Birth name Clifford Joseph Trahan
Also known as Tommy Todd
Jericho Jones
Johnny "Pee Wee" Blaine
Johnny "Pee Wee" Trayhan
Johnny "Pee Wee" Trahan
Filthy McNasty
Born (1938-10-03) October 3, 1938 (age 76)
Moss Bluff, Louisiana, United States
Origin Crowley, Louisiana, United States
Genres Country, Rockabilly, Swamp pop
Occupation(s) Singer, Songwriter
Instruments Singing, Guitar
Years active 1958–2014
Labels Reb Rebel, Zynn, Todd, Flyright, Viking, Ringo, WOW, X-Rated, Wildwood, Master-Trak, AggWood, Try It Man, Johnny Rebel
Associated acts Pee Wee Whitewing & The Country Boys
Johnny Blaine & Cross Country, Alex Bertrand, Al Foreman, Abe Manuel, Bobby McBride, Warren Storm, Alton Thibodeaux, Rufus Thibodeaux, Pee Wee Whitewing

Johnny Rebel was the pseudonym of Cajun country musician Clifford Joseph Trahan (Born: October 3, 1938), also known as Pee Wee Trahan. Trahan used this pseudonym most notably on racist[1] recordings issued in the 1960s on J. D. "Jay" Miller's Reb Rebel label of Crowley, Louisiana.[1][2]

Career[edit]

His songs frequently use the racial epithet nigger and often voice sympathy for Jim Crow-era segregation and the Ku Klux Klan.

Trahan first recorded under the Johnny Rebel moniker in the mid-1960s. He employed J. D. "Jay" Miller's recording studio in Crowley, Louisiana. Miller, in fact, produced the sessions and issued the recordings on his own Reb Rebel label.[2]

Trahan's first release—the fifth for the Reb Rebel label—was a 45 RPM single of "Lookin' for a Handout" and "Kajun Ku Klux Klan". He would record many more singles for the label, "Nigger, Nigger", "In Coon Town", "Who Likes a Nigger?", "Nigger Hatin' Me", "Still Looking for a Handout", "Some Niggers Never Die (They Just Smell That Way)", "Stay Away from Dixie", and "Move Them Niggers North."[2] Only two of Trahan's songs are not strictly about race: "Keep a-Workin' Big Jim" is the efforts of Louisiana district attorney Jim Garrison to solve the Kennedy assassination, while "(Federal Aid Hell!) The Money Belongs to Us" is a song critical of U.S. federal aid programs.[3]

In 1976, Trahan's song "Lâche pas la patate" (also known as "The Potato Song"), sung by Jimmy C. Newman earned gold record status in Canada.[4]

Two of these songs were eventually issued in album format by Reb Rebel Records under the title "For Segregationists Only".[2]

Johnny Rebel's songs have been covered by other singers such as Big Reb and the German band Landser. In 2005, his song "Some Niggers Never Die (They Just Smell That Way)" was used in the film What Is It? directed by Crispin Glover.[citation needed]

A CD compilation of his works simply shows a hooded Klansman together with a depiction of the Confederate Battle Flag. The cover of the album "It's the attitude stupid" shows a hooded Klansman, holding what appears to be either a Walkman or MP3 player, and wearing headphones.

Popular culture[edit]

The television series The Boondocks parodied Johnny Rebel's music in one of its episodes (entitled The Story of Jimmy Rebel). The episode portrays a recording artist who is ostensibly Johnny Rebel.

The song "The White Man Marches on" can be heard in American History X being sung enthusiastically by Ethan Suplee's character whilst driving to meet Edward Norton.

The song "Some Niggers Never Die (They Just Smell That Way)" was featured in the 2005 surrealist film What Is It?, in a scene where an African-American woman in an ape mask gives a handjob to a Caucasian man with cerebral palsy.

Personal life[edit]

Trahan has rarely allowed himself to be photographed by anyone other than close friends and family, although he claims there are indeed images of him on the Internet. He says he has no idea where those photos originated.[3]

Trahan owned a driving school in Crowley, Louisiana which he handed over to his son in 2008.[5]

Misattributions[edit]

Johnny Rebel is often misidentified as the pseudonym of David Allan Coe,[citation needed] an American outlaw country music singer who achieved popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Coe wrote some racist songs, most notably "Nigger Fucker" on his Underground Album.

Some of Johnny Rebel songs have also been misattributed to Johnny Horton,[citation needed] an American country music and rockabilly singer. The confusion comes from a song by Horton called "Johnny Reb".

Trahan's version of "Nigger Hatin' Me" has also appeared, wrongly attributed to Buddy Holly, on Holly releases such as, "The Apartment Demos".

The pseudonym Johnny Rebel is also used by a Columbus, Ohio, rockabilly singer named Sean Groves (born October 18, 1968). As Johnny Rebel, he has fronted regional rockabilly band Th' Flyin' Saucers since 1989. Groves has no connection with Trahan.[6]

Controversy and popular reception[edit]

When Je'Nelle Chargois, the current president of the Lafayette chapter of the NAACP, was growing up in Lafayette, she never heard Johnny Rebel's music. But she says she knows where it came from. "[It] is an example of a type of racism that is embedded in this community, and it is something that has to be dealt with," Chargois says.

As Johnny Rebel, Trahan says, he was just singing what was on the minds of everyone he knew. "At that time, there was a lot of resentment -- whites toward blacks and blacks toward whites. So, everybody had their own feelings. Lots of people changed their feelings over the years. I basically changed my feelings over the years up to a point."

Some Johnny Rebel songs, including "Kajun Klu Klux Klan" and "Nigger Hatin' Me," commend or suggest violence. Others are less direct.

Mark Potok, a hate music expert with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., says the most effective tool to recruit teens to white power groups is the appeal of members of the opposite sex. After that, he says, it's music. "I have heard from so many people who have come out and said that the music really did have an effect on them," he says. "A typical 17-year-old doesn't know why he is so unhappy with the world but is looking for something."

In the years since the Johnny Rebel sessions, his message has proliferated to groups throughout the world. "Since the 1960s, when racist country singer Johnny Rebel recorded songs such as 'N-- Hatin' Me,' more than 500 hate rock bands have formed worldwide," reports the Anti-Defamation League in its report Bigots Who Rock: An ADL List of Hate Music Groups. Most of these groups formed after the British band Skrewdriver turned to delivering hate-filled messages in 1982.

Among the sites now selling bootlegged Johnny Rebel music is whitepowerrecords.com, which lists a CD titled Klassic Klan Kompositions. The site is a branch of Condor Legion Ordnance (CLO), a corporation avowedly dedicated to the survival of the white race. Victor Gephard, a lawyer who runs the CLO site, says that he has the right to sell the records because no one is clear who owns the copyrights to the material. He also says he doubts whether or not Trahan is the real Johnny Rebel, stating that some songs sound different vocally from others. "If he is really Johnny Rebel, he got a raw deal," Gephard says, adding that if managed and properly represented by attorneys, the real Johnny Rebel should be worth millions.

Resistance Records is the largest distributor of white power music. National Alliance leader William Pierce—the author of the underground hate classic The Turner Diaries—purchased the company in 1999 and has built up to an estimated annual sales of $1 million, says ADL. The Resistance Web site lists Johnny Rebel's Klassic Klan Kompositions as its no. 2 seller, right after the top-selling video game Ethnic Cleansing.[7]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details
1971 For Segregationists Only
  • Release date: 1971
  • Label: Reb Rebel Records
2003 The Complete Johnny Rebel Collection
  • Release date: 2003
  • Label: Johnny Rebel Records
It's the Attitude, Stupid!
  • Release date: 2003
  • Label: Try It Man Records

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak positions Album
US Country
1966 "Lookin' for a Handout / Kajun Ku Klux Klan" For Segregationists Only
"Nigger Hatin' Me / Who Likes a Nigger"
1967 "(Federal Aid Hell!) The Money Belongs to Us / Keep a Workin' Big Jim "
1968 "Nigger, Nigger / Move Them Niggers North"
1969 "Coon Town / Still Looking For A Handout"
1970 "Some Niggers Never Die / Stay Away From Dixie "—" denotes releases that did not chart

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Shane K. Bernard, The Cajuns: Americanization of a People. Jackson, Miss: University Press of Mississippi, 2003, p. 63f.
  2. ^ a b c d John Broven, South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican, 1983, p. 252f. ISBN 0-88289-608-3.
  3. ^ a b Nick Pittman, "Johnny Rebel Speaks" at the Wayback Machine (archived November 12, 2007), in: Times of Acadiana, Lafayette, Louisiana, ca. 2000.
  4. ^ "Page about Lâche pas la patate on Discogs.com". 
  5. ^ http://www.letsdrivecrowley.com/About_Us.html
  6. ^ Groves, Sean. "Th' Flyin' Saucers". http://www.thflyinsaucers.com/. 
  7. ^ Pittmann, Nick. "Johnny Rebel Speaks". Gambit: Best of New Orleans. Retrieved 2015-06-25. 

References[edit]

  • B & H Interview Johnny Rebel, 'A True Son Of Louisiana, 2009' [1]
  • John Broven, South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous (Gretna, La.: Pelican, 1983).
  • Shane K. Bernard, The Cajuns: Americanization of a People (Jackson, Miss: University Press of Mississippi, 2003).
  • Terry E. Gordon, Rockin' Country Style
  • Landser: Deutsche Wut/Rock gegen Oben, 1997, CD (track 9 "Kreuzberg" is a German language cover of Trahan's "Coon Town")

External links[edit]