Tapes Shed Light on Imprisoned Artist Billy McCune The principal subject of Danny Lyon's seminal photography book, Conversations with the Dead, died this week. Lyon recorded his visits with the convicted rapist almost 40 years ago, then met up with McCune decades later.
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Tapes Shed Light on Imprisoned Artist Billy McCune

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Tapes Shed Light on Imprisoned Artist Billy McCune

Tapes Shed Light on Imprisoned Artist Billy McCune

Tapes Shed Light on Imprisoned Artist Billy McCune

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15067610/15067582" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Billy McCune's portrait of Danny Lyon. Billy McCune hide caption

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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.