Johnny Rebel (singer)
Clifford Joseph Trahan (September 25, 1938 – September 3, 2016), best known as Johnny Rebel and Pee Wee Trahan, was an American singer, songwriter, and musician known for having songs supportive of white supremacy. Trahan used the Johnny Rebel name for a series of recordings for J. D. "Jay" Miller's Reb Rebel label in the 1960s in response to the civil rights movement. The 12 songs exhibit racial hatred marketed as "subtle, rib-tickling satire". The songs frequently used the racial slur "nigger" and often voiced sympathy for racial segregation, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Confederate States of America.
Photograph of Clifford Trahan
|Birth name||Clifford Joseph Trahan|
|Also known as||Johnny Rebel |
Johnny "Pee Wee" Blaine
Johnny "Pee Wee" Trayhan
Johnny "Pee Wee" Trahan
Jimmy "Pee Wee" Krebs
|Born||September 25, 1938|
|Origin||Moss Bluff, Louisiana|
|Died||September 3, 2016 (aged 77)|
|Genres||Country music |
White power music
|Labels||Reb Rebel, Zynn, Todd, Flyright Records, Viking, Wildwood, Master-Trak, AggWood, Try It Man, Johnny Rebel|
In a 2003 interview, Trahan claimed that he "just did it for the money" and that he "didn't set out to spread hate or start trouble". He said "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."
Trahan first recorded songs under the Johnny Rebel name in the mid-1960s at J. D. "Jay" Miller's recording studio in Crowley, Louisiana. Miller produced the sessions and issued the recordings on his Reb Rebel label.
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 then recorded more singles for the label: "Nigger, Nigger", "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".
Few of Trahan's songs concern topics other than race. These exceptions include "Keep a-Workin' Big Jim", about the efforts of Louisiana district attorney Jim Garrison to solve the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, and "(Federal Aid Hell!) The Money Belongs to Us", a song critical of U.S. federal aid programs. Two of these songs were eventually issued in album format by Reb Rebel Records under the title For Segregationists Only.
After the September 11 attacks, Trahan noticed a resurgence in interest in his music. He then recorded and released a new song titled "Infidel Anthem", describing the "whipping" America should lay on Osama bin Laden. His new manager, a fan, booked him on The Howard Stern Show, where he promoted the song. This led to increased interest in his music.
A CD compilation of his works simply shows a hooded member of the Ku Klux Klan 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 an MP3 player with a confederate flag texture, and wearing headphones.
According to Trahan, he only performed a Johnny Rebel song once. Trahan states he was playing country music in the town of Kaplan, when someone in the crowd requested a Rebel song, and obliged after making sure there were no blacks in the audience.
Views on reparations
Trahan did have an issue with reparations for slavery, saying "Blacks develop an attitude towards the whites, and they won't let it go. They won't let go of what happened. Why should we pay reparations for things that happened 200 years ago? I was run out of my country ... my ancestors were run out of Nova Scotia."
Johnny Rebel is often misidentified as the pseudonym of David Allan Coe, an American outlaw country singer who achieved popularity during the 1970s and 1980s. The confusion stems in part from the song "Nigger Fucker", which appears on Coe's Underground Album. Coe has been quoted as saying that "anyone that hears [Underground Album] and says I'm a racist is full of shit."
Some of Johnny Rebel's songs have also been misattributed to Johnny Horton, an American country music and rockabilly singer who died in 1960. The confusion appears to stem from a song by Horton called "Johnny Reb".
Johnny Rebel's songs have been covered by other singers such as Big Reb and the German neo-Nazi band Landser, which covered Rebel's "Coon Town" as "Kreuzberg", the 9th song on its 1997 album, Deutsche Wut/Rock gegen Oben.
In popular culture
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.
|1971||For Segregationists Only
|2003||The Complete Johnny Rebel Collection
|It's the Attitude, Stupid!
|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|
- Tsioulcas, Anastasia (September 14, 2017). "After Labels Object, White Nationalist Stormfront Radio Stops Using Johnny Cash". NPR. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
- Carpenter, Zoë (June 23, 2015). "A History of Hate Rock From Johnny Rebel to Dylann Roo". The Nation.
- Bernard, Shane K. (2003). The Cajuns: Americanization of a People. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. pp. 63–64.
- Broven, John (1983). South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican. pp. 252–253. ISBN 0-88289-608-3.
- Pittman, Nick (June 9, 2003). "Johnny Rebel Speaks". The Advocate.
- "Johnny Rebel". NNDB.
- "Lâche pas la patate". discogs.
- https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/169306956/clifford-joseph-trahan[non-primary source needed]
- "1967 LOOKIN' FOR A HANDOUT Johnny Rebel on Reb Rebel". PopSike.com.
- Leroy, Dan (July 14, 2005). "Coe Revisits Penitentiary". Rolling Stone.
- Strom, Phoebe (2014). "Defining Dixie: Creating and Deploying Country Music's Mythic South – Written at Rhodes College" (PDF). Memphis, Tennessee: Rhodes College.
- "What Is It? (2005)". IMDb.