By 1957, I’d been locked up in Marquette for 26 years and I figured everyone had pretty much forgotten about The Purple Gang. Which was fine by me, since I didn’t want to answer any more stupid questions. And then one day I’m just sitting there reading Spengler and somebody tells me I have a call from a guy named Presley. I did not know who the hell this was, nor would I have cared even if I did know who it was. What I could tell straight off was that he was a hick and he was full of questions, two things I don’t like.
He started asking me what it was like back in those days in Detroit, and what was it like in prison, and what would I think about having my gang mentioned in a song on the radio. With regards to being mentioned in the song, I said: Do you require my permission to do this? He answered no, and I said: Then why the f- -k are you asking?
That was the end of our chat but a while later I heard the song on a radio here at Marquette. It was a bunch of crap about prisoners dancing and playing music in their cells, something I have never seen and never hope to see. One line refers to “Joe on the slide trombone” which may or may not be a reference to me. In another line, the hick declares The whole rhythm section was The Purple Gang. I do not know what the hell that even means. But I do know it got people asking stupid questions about the Purple Gang again, and next thing you knew, Hollywood was making a movie wherein not a single member of the gang was Jewish.
If you wish to torture yourself, give the hick’s song a listen.
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Arthur Nix • Back stabbings • Good old Detroit • Harry Riley • Henry Ford • Mazel tough • Rachel and the Palmer Raids • Saying bad things? • Speakeasy queen • The babies • Why purple? • WWJBD? • Buy the book