Dion DiMucci: Abraham, Martin and John (1968)


Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked ’round and he’s gone.

Dion DiMucci – Dion, for short – is an American singer-songwriter. In February 1959 he toured the United States together with other performers like Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper. On 3 February 1959, the other three all died in a plane crash. Dion escaped their fate as he had not been willing to pay the extra money for the flight … After this ‘Day the Music Died’ Dion became addicted to heroin, but in the mid-1960s he made a more than successful comeback in music with mostly quieter blues and folk rock numbers.

In ‘Abraham, Martin and John’, a song written by Dick Holler, Dion looked back on a series of momentous assassinations in American history. The song was released in 1968, shortly after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in quick succession. Two other figures that Dion referred to in the song are the American presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, who were also murdered because of the ideals they pursued.

‘Abraham, Martin and John’ became a huge hit in America and has since been covered numerous times. Smokey Robinson recorded a soul version, released by Motown, which he even performed live at the White House in 2010, during a concert celebrating the music of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

For footage of this performance, which was attended by the Obamas, click here.

Other big names who have covered the song include Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Mahalia Jackson and Paul Weller.