Though parole had been consistently denied for 40 years, today John A. Brown, convicted in the 1973 murder of Dave “Stringbean” Akeman and his wife Estelle, was granted parole and is set for release from the Tennessee prison system. His initial sentence had been for 198 years.
Before previous parole hearings, Nashville’s country music icons had generated email or letter-writing campaigns to protest the potential release of the perpetrator of this particularly violent robbery and murder which occurred following a Stringbean Grand Ole Opry performance on November 10, 1973. They were found dead the next morning by their dear friends and property co-owners, Grandpa and Ramona Jones.
Also convicted of the murders was Brown’s cousin, Doug Marvin Brown, who died in prison in 2013.
In 2009, Sam Bush, Verlon Thompson, and Guy Clark wrote a song about the incident, called The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle. It was included on Bush’s Circle’s Around Me album.
Many Nashville residents and country/bluegrass music fans who recall the grisly details of the Akeman’s murders still bear substantial ill will towards the Browns, and have voiced displeasure over the Parole Board’s recommendation.
Peter Cooper has a terrific remembrance of Stringbean, and a recollection of the case, in The Tennessean today.