Tapes Shed Light on Imprisoned Artist Billy McCune

Billy McCune i i

Billy McCune's portrait of Danny Lyon. Billy McCune hide caption

itoggle caption Billy McCune
Billy McCune

Billy McCune's portrait of Danny Lyon.

Billy McCune

More Art by Billy McCune

Billy McCune, a convicted rapist who sang his way off death row in Texas, died this week.

McCune was the principal subject of documentary photographer Danny Lyon's seminal photography book, Conversations with the Dead. Lyon recorded his visits with Billy McCune almost 40 years ago and then met up with McCune decades later. During his imprisonment, McCune became a noted artist. Lyon included many of McCune's works in his book.

Lyon made reel-to-reel audio recordings of his conversations with McCune, which provided insight into the Texas prison system of the 1960s. The tapes, never heard before, tell the story of life in prison and the unique relationship between Lyon and McCune.

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