Songfacts®: You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.
Jack The Ripper is the name given to the anonymous Victorian serial killer who was responsible for some or all of the so-called Whitechapel Murders of 1888-91. The term "serial killer" was coined by the FBI agent and author Robert Ressler; previously serial killings were known as "stranger murders." Although stranger murders and gratuitous murders generally were far from unknown in Victorian England, the Whitechapel Murders achieved worldwide notoriety on account of their particularly gruesome nature. The fact that the alleged killer was never apprehended led to enormous speculation about his identity and motives, speculation that has increased rather than diminished with the passage of time.
Although there may have been others, the five who are generally accepted as being Ripper victims were murdered between August 31 and November 9, 1888. The first was Mary Ann Nicholls, the second was Annie Chapman, then Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes (who were killed within hours of each other) and the final and most gruesome, Mary Kelly. The victims were all prostitutes - traditionally easy targets for casual sadism.
All manner of suspects have been named including a barrister who committed suicide in 1888, a deranged schocket, and a Russian doctor. The most alluring suspect whose name entered the public domain only in 1993 was Francis Tumblety, who died in Missouri in 1903.
In literature, Jack The Ripper is often portrayed as a gentleman, perhaps a doctor, who walks the East End of London at night wearing a top hat and an immaculately tailored suit; and carrying a black bag. This was the way David Sutch portrayed him in his live act. A Sutch fan who posted a video of him performing the song to the YouTube website said it was his "trademark tune," adding "For some reason, no radio stations wanted to go near this!"
The word Ripper has become a generic term for this type of serial killer; the Randy Newman
song "In Germany Before The War
" is based indirectly on the Düsseldorf Ripper, while "Nice Man Jack
" by John Miles is another song about the original, in which he portrays the unknown killer in the same manner as Sutch, but devoid of the flippancy.
Credited to Stacey, Haggin and Simmons, "Jack The Ripper" was released on Decca backed by "Don't You Just Know It." In Germany, the B-Side was "I'm A Hog For You." (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3)
The Real Nick Drake
The head of Drake's estate shares his insights on the late folk singer's life and music.
Don Brewer of Grand Funk
The drummer and one of the primary songwriters in Grand Funk talks rock stardom and Todd Rundgren.