Jack Ruby

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Songfacts®:

  • On November 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, a small man with big ambitions and a bizarre past, assassinated the President of the United States in spectacular fashion at Dealey Plaza, Dallas. Shortly, Oswald was arrested, not for killing John F. Kennedy but for the murder of a police officer. In the UK, that would have been the end of the story until his trial, but they do things differently in Texas. Oswald was paraded in front of the press where his immortal words "I'm just a patsy" have been taken at face value by generations of gullible conspiracy mongers.

    On November 24, as Oswald was about to be transferred to the county jail, Jack Ruby walked into the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters and shot him in the stomach at close range. Two hours later, Oswald was dead. Like Oswald's own handiwork, the murder was captured on film for posterity.

    The shots from Oswald's rifle rang out at 12:30 pm but Saxon can be forgiven for using poetic license to write "Dallas 1pm". Most of the rubbish that has been written about the Kennedy Assassination has no such mitigation; almost as much outrageous nonsense has been written about Ruby as about Oswald. Fortunately, that does not extend to this song, which is right on the money.

    According to Michael Heatley's book, The Complete Deep Purple, "Jack Ruby" started off with a riff in 6/4 time from Messrs Glover and Paice; they began writing it just after the 1980s reunion. Credited words and music to Gillan/Glover/Lord/Morse/Paice and running to 3 minutes 47 seconds, the guys did their homework. Jack Ruby has been described as a wannabe/never was, but he was also his own man, and the sort of hothead who could gun down a man over a grudge. He may have been a club owner with a shady past, but he adored the President, as did many people.

    Ruby was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, but his conviction was overturned on technical grounds. A retrial was ordered for February 1967, but before it could take place, he was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastatized to his liver and brain. He died January 3, 1967.

    If Ruby is to be remembered for one thing it should not be for the death of an assassin but for the birth of an industry. As of November 2012, the British Library held over 200 books dedicated to the Kennedy Assassination. But for Jack Ruby's fiery outburst 49 years earlier, most of them would not have been written. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England

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