November 10, 1973

Banjo player David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife Estell were murdered at their home outside Nashville. Akeman was modest and unassuming, and he enjoyed hunting and fishing. Accustomed to the hard times of the Great Depression, Akeman and his wife Estelle lived frugally in a tiny cabin near Ridgetop, Tennessee. Their only indulgence was a Cadillac. Depression-era bank failures caused him not to trust banks with his money. Gossip around Nashville was that Akeman kept large amounts of cash on hand, even though he was by no means wealthy by entertainment industry standards.

On Saturday night, November 10, 1973, Akeman and his wife returned home after he performed at the Grand Ole Opry. Both were shot dead shortly after their arrival. The murder was discovered the next morning by the Akeman’s neighbor, Grand Ole Opry member and Hee-Haw regular, Grandpa Jones.

A police investigation resulted in the convictions of cousins John A. Brown and Marvin Douglas Brown, both 23 years old. They had ransacked the cabin and killed Stringbean when he arrived. His wife shrieked when she saw her husband murdered. She begged for her life, but was shot as well.


The killers took only a chain saw and some firearms. In 1996, 23 years after the murders, $20,000 in paper money was discovered behind a chimney brick in Aikman's home. The money had deteriorated to such an extent that it was not usable and had to be turned in to a bank.

Marvin Douglas Brown fought his convictions in the appellate courts. On September 28, 1982, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial judge's order denying him a new trial. Marvin Brown ultimately granted an exclusive interview to Larry Brinton of the Nashville Banner. He admitted his part in the burglary and murders, but insisted John Brown fired the fatal shots.

Beginning after his death, as a tribute to Akeman, a scarecrow on the program Hee-Haw was dressed in Akeman's shirt and overalls, where it remained until the program discontinued production in 1992.

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    1984 – Willie Nelson – City of New Orleans

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