Early morning, April 4, shot rings out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life. They could not take your pride
Martin Luther King and his incredible story first came to my attention in 1984 when Bonzo the Great Clown of Davos sang those words on top of the pops.
It was only years latter that I learnt that, if you want to be entirely accurate about the matter, it was actually 6.01pm when Doctor King was shot down in cold blood. Never let the truth get in the way of a good line I guess.
James Earl Ray was convicted of his murder after entering a guilty plea to avoid a possible death penalty. He died in prison in 1998. For many he is considered to be responsible for the death of a great man.
Something I’ve never heard Bonzo sing about was that Ray was effectively absolved of the killing by a Jury in 1999 who instead found US Government Agencies complicit in a very political assassination.
It was more than a decade before I stumbled across this fact. In my defence, the story was buried by the media at the time and is seldom refereed to today.
Loyd Jowers and co-conspirators were brought to trial in a wrongful death civil action suit on behalf of the King family. 70 witnesses set out the details of the conspiracy in a plot that involved J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, Richard Helms and the CIA, the military, the local Memphis police, and organized crime figures from New Orleans and Memphis. The jury took an hour to find for the King family.
Dr William Pepper was attorney for the King Family and this is his story:
Never let the truth get in the way of a good party I guess…