Little Willie John Dead In Prison Cell While Serving Time For Manslaughter

Detroit R&B singer Little Willie John died of pneumonia in a prison cell today (May 26, 1968).

Little Willie John was serving time at the Walla Walla Prison, for a knife slaying that occurred in 1964.

The incident occurred in Seattle, Washington, when Little Willie became embroiled in a dispute with a man named Kendall Roundtree.

According to reports, Roundtree, who was 240 pounds, smacked Little Willie John three or four times, without provocation.

Little Willie John, 27 pulled out a knife and stabbed Roundtree in the chest, Killing the man instantly.

The singer, who had been in and out of trouble since 1959, was released on $10,000 bail.

In previous years, Little Willie John had been accused of possession of marijuana in Greensboro, North Carolina, charged with grand larceny for a telephone scam in Washington DC, and arrested for refusing to play a whiskey bill in Baltimore.

A number of celebrities attended Little Willie John’s funeral, including Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Joe Tex, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd and others.

The eulogy was delivered by new Bethel Baptist Church Pastor, C.L. Franklin, who was also Aretha Franklin’s father.