Shorty moved from the south to Detroit in the late 1950's, think Fats Domino, with a twinkle in his eye and you had Shorty.
He flirted with success but never hit the main stream. He did some stuff with MoTown, the most recognizable song he'd written was "Devil With a Blue Dress On" A sultry soulful tune that Mitch Ryder recorded at 100mph and had a humungus hit with.
Shorty was a very talented entertainer, had the chops musically and a charisma, sense of humor and charm to go with it.
Unfortunately, he had a flair for the wrong elements of life. Attempts on his life by loan sharks, drug dealers and bookies were not uncommon.
With that in mind, when I heard, on the radio, that he had "Drowned" accidently, while fishing in the Detroit River, I thought to myself...I don't think so. Hold that thought.
Some years later I had a nice steady weekend gig in the town of "Hell"...honest there's a little town in Michigan with that name.
I played weekends for about a year in around 1975/76. The saloon/restaurant was called the "Dam Site Inn". A very nice regular weekend crowd there, they loved their Country, Rock a Billy and Oldies. One song that was a regular request was a tongue twister written by Shorty Called "Function at the Junction". I intro'd the song with my "Cute" story on how poor Shorty drowned during a fishing trip...and added...of course it's kinda hard to swim if you have three cement blocks tied to your legs. I'm clever huh?
When I came down from the set the waitress immediatley cornered me and said "Barney" (the bartender) needs to see you in the back room RIGHT NOW!!
Barney sat me down under a bright light, just like in the movies, blowing his cigarette smoke in my face and demanded HOW COME YOU KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT THIS SHORTY LONG THING??
At that point, he whipped out his badge..Barney was a retired Detroit homicide inspector! He informed me that the police department had NEVER made the information public that Shorty had cement blocks around his legs. My reaction was habahabahaba. I tired to be calm (failed at that) and splained to him that I knew Shorty personally and knew of his life style and kinda put 2+2 together...and I promise I'll never say another word about it...
Barney grinned, knowing he had made his point..subject closed from then on.
True story here..still played the song all the time but...intro sorta like...here it is.
R I P Shorty on your 80th birthday..an ugly life, but nobody deserves to be murdered IMHO