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

The sixties were stained through a collection of tragic, high-profile political assassinations which, naturally, had the country on edge. One song, however, that was released in 1968, simply three month after the assassination the Robert Kennedy, appeared to jointly speak the the extensive sadness end the lose of life and also the emotion of hopelessness that hung in the air. That tune was “Abraham, Martin and John”. Created by dick Holler and performed by Dion, the tune shows both melancholy and resilience in the confront of tragedy. Here is the story behind “Abraham, Martin and also John”.

You are watching: Who wrote the song: abraham, martin and john


Robert Kennedy simply moments before his assassination.

Robert Kennedy’s Assassination Led Holler to write the Song

Dick Holler to be greatly influenced by the assassinations of both President john F. Kennedy and also Civil legal rights Leader, martin Luther King, Jr. Return the Kennedy assassination and also the King assassination were five years apart, the nation was quiet in mourning and still reeling indigenous both killings. As soon as Robert Kennedy to be shot and killed just one month ~ King, it was the tipping point for Holler. He thought that the country needed a tune they might mourn by. The wrote, “Abraham, Martin and also John” in around ten minutes. Although Robert Kennedy is not called in the song’s title, Holler often declared that his fatality was the catalyst of the song.


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

See more: What Is 5 Tenths As A Decimal S And Fractions, Tenths As Decimals

The Songwriter connected Four influential Assassinations

The text of “Abraham, Martin and John” are fairly repetitive. In the an initial stanza, the song’s narrator asks if anyone has seen his friend, Abraham…a clear referral to Abraham Lincoln, the country’s 16th president that was shot and killed by an assassin, john Wilkes Booth, top top April 14, 1865. The second stanza asks the very same question, but this time, the narrator is searching for his friend, John. President man F. Kennedy to be assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas, top top November 22, 1963. Again, the song’s narrator asks if anyone has actually seen his friend, Martin. Civil legal rights leader, boy name Luther King, Jr. To be shot on April 4, 1968, through James Earl Ray. The last stanza is different. The narrator no longer asks where his friend is…he notes that he watch his old friend, Bobby, walking end a hill v Abraham, Martin, and also John. The "Bobby" he mentions is Robert Kennedy, who was killed by Sirhan Sirhan on June 5, 1968. 


Dick Holler

Was Dion The appropriate Singer for the Song?

After the song was penned, the following step to be to find the appropriate singer to document it. Gene and also Robert Schwartz of Laurie Records, the document label Holler worked for, said Dion, the stage name of Dion DiMucci. The just hiccup was that Dion had a call for gift a raging junkie, but he was rumored to have acquired clean. Holler and the Schwartz brothers visited a coffee residence where Dion was performing to see for themselves if he was still addicted come drugs. Dion was free of the grips of drug addiction and 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 John,” the singer hesitated. First, that felt as though the track was capitalizing top top the assassination the Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Second, it wasn’t the type of pop track that he was supplied to recording. His other hits consisted of “The Wanderer” and also “Runaround Sue”. Holler played a demo recording of the track to Dion, his wife and also her mother and also it was Dion’s mother-in-law that adjusted his mind when she said, “It sounds like the gospel.”


The Smothers Brothers

The song was promoted on “The Smothers brother Comedy Hour”

A few weeks after Dion taped “Abraham, Martin and also John”, the singer appeared on “The Smothers brothers Comedy Hour”. The popular selection show was known for showcasing numerous of the optimal musical action of the time, but additionally for mixing in politics satire. ~ Dion performed “Abraham, Martin and John” top top the show, sales the the document skyrocketed. The tune peaked at the number 4 spot top top the pop single charts and also sold more than a million copies. In bordering Canada, “Abraham, Martin, and John” struggle the height of the charts. 

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

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