1968: senator Robert Kennedy speak at an choice rally. (Photo by take care of Benson/Express/Getty Images)

The sixties were stained with a series of tragic, high-profile politics assassinations which, naturally, had actually the nation on edge. One song, however, the was released in 1968, simply three month after the assassination that Robert Kennedy, seemed to jointly speak that the profound sadness end the lose of life and the emotion of hopelessness the hung in the air. That song was “Abraham, Martin and also John”. Composed by cock Holler and performed by Dion, the tune shows both melancholy and resilience in the face of tragedy. Below is the story behind “Abraham, Martin and also John”.

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Robert Kennedy just moments before his assassination.

Robert Kennedy’s Assassination Led Holler to compose the Song

Dick Holler was greatly affected by the assassinations the both President john F. Kennedy and Civil legal rights Leader, young name Luther King, Jr. Back the Kennedy assassination and the King assassination were five years apart, the country was quiet in mourning and still reeling native both killings. Once Robert Kennedy was shot and killed simply one month ~ King, it to be the tipping allude for Holler. He believed that the nation needed a tune they might mourn by. That wrote, “Abraham, Martin and also John” in about ten minutes. Return Robert Kennedy is not called in the song’s title, Holler often proclaimed that his death was the incentive of the song.


1866 illustration that Lincoln"s assassination in Ford"s Theatre.

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The Songwriter connected Four significant Assassinations

The lyrics of “Abraham, Martin and John” are quite repetitive. In the very first stanza, the song’s narrator asks if anyone has seen his friend, Abraham…a clear recommendation to Abraham Lincoln, the country’s 16th president who was shot and also killed by one assassin, john Wilkes Booth, on April 14, 1865. The second stanza asks the very same question, yet this time, the narrator is in search of his friend, John. President man F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas, top top November 22, 1963. Again, the song’s narrator asks if anyone has seen his friend, Martin. Civil civil liberties leader, boy name Luther King, Jr. To be shot top top April 4, 1968, through James Earl Ray. The final stanza is different. The narrator no longer asks whereby his friend is…he notes the he watch his old friend, Bobby, walking over a hill through Abraham, Martin, and also John. The "Bobby" that mentions is Robert Kennedy, who was killed by Sirhan Sirhan ~ above June 5, 1968. 


Dick Holler

Was Dion The ideal Singer because that the Song?

After the track was penned, the following step to be to discover the best singer to document it. Gene and Robert Schwartz the Laurie Records, the record label Holler functioned for, suggested Dion, the stage name of Dion DiMucci. The only hiccup was the Dion had actually a reputation for being a raging junkie, yet he to be rumored to have gotten clean. Holler and the Schwartz brothers checked out a coffee home where Dion to be performing to watch for us if he to be still addicted come drugs. Dion was totally free of the grips of medicine addiction and also his voice to be as strong as ever. 


But Dion Wasn’t sure he was ideal for the Song

When Holler and the Schwartz brother approached Dion around singing “Abraham, Martin and also John,” the singer hesitated. First, that felt as though the song was capitalizing ~ above the assassination the Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Second, it wasn’t the form of pop song that that was offered to recording. His various other hits contained “The Wanderer” and also “Runaround Sue”. Holler play a demo record of the tune to Dion, his wife and also her mother and also it to be Dion’s mother-in-law that readjusted his mind when she said, “It sounds favor the gospel.”


The Smothers Brothers

The song was advocated on “The Smothers brothers Comedy Hour”

A couple of weeks after ~ Dion videotaped “Abraham, Martin and also John”, the singer showed up on “The Smothers brother Comedy Hour”. The popular selection show was recognized for showcasing numerous of the optimal musical acts of the time, but likewise for mix in politics satire. After ~ Dion carry out “Abraham, Martin and also John” ~ above the show, sales that the record skyrocketed. The tune peaked at the number four spot ~ above the pop single charts and also sold much more than a million copies. In neighboring Canada, “Abraham, Martin, and also John” struggle the height of the charts. 

“Abraham, Martin and also John” has actually Been Covered countless Times

A song with a message as an effective as the one in “Abraham, Martin and John” often enjoys numerous renditions and recordings and that is what taken place with this song. Over the years, it has been covered by plenty of artists in a selection of genre, consisting of Andy Williams, Eartha Kitt, Whitney Houston, Mahalia Jackson, Kenny Rogers and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, to surname a few.