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WLAC NASHVILLE III
(A Mini Series)
A new Screen Play by Don Boner and Chera Federle
Part three of a mini-series
Jazzing Up the Blues with a Boogie Woogie Beat

           Some real slicked up music was performed by Black Artist in the 20's, 30's and 40's Jazz, Boogie Woogie, and Blues. Someone was Jazzing up the blues with a boogie woogie beat. The blues came into it's own in the late 40's and early 50's it had it's own style performed by new and different artist. However the Boogie Woogie Beat was being played in the 20's, 30's and 40's paving the way for the blues.
           Cab Calloway was one of those great entertainers. Calloway grew up in Baltimore and for a short time attended law school but the call to entertainment was so strong that by 1932 he was a household name in Jazz music working the Cotton Club in New York, City. In 1931 Calloway hit it big with "Minnie The Moocher". He begin to work with the biggest and best known black entertainers of the 20's, 30's, and 40's, Bill Robinson, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.
           Calloway appeared in several movies (Stormy Weather) and (Porgy And Bess) he had other hits including "Kicking The Kong Around "Reefer Man" and "You Gotta Hi-De-Ho" his 1942 recording of "Blues In The Night" was also a big hit. Cab Calloway had some of the beat side men in the business (he kept them by paying them top dollar) they were Walter "foots" Thomas, Benny Page, Doc Cheatham, Eddie Barfield, Shad Collins, Cozy Cole, Danny Barker, Milt Hinton, Mario Bauza, Chu Berry, Dizzy Gillespie, Jonah Jones, Tyree Glenn, Panama Francis and Ike Quebec. Calloway finally broke up the band in 1948. He did kept working with the Cab Jivers until his retirement. His fans never grew tired of hearing him sing " Minnie The Moocher".
           Count Basie was another great jazz and blues artist who begin his career in 1935 and kept his band alive from 1935 until his death at 79. Basie had a light swing and rhythm orchestra that he lead from the piano with a lot of step it up and go and lots of soloing from him on the piano. Basie was up tempo he did the boogie woogie on the piano like no one else if you get his recording of (boogie woogie) and his (boogie woogie may be wrong) you'll have no trouble realizing where rock n roll started we're talking 1938 and 39 not 1956 and 57.
           He got stranded in 1927 in Kansas City when the band in which he was playing broke up. He got out of Kansas City by taking a job in Walter Page's Blue Devils, Jimmy Rushing was the vocalist. In 1936 he got his first recording break with Decca records recording "One O'clock Jump" the recording led to gigs in Chicago, New York, and Boston, then they returned to the studio to record "Don't Mess around The Mulberry Bush" jimmy Rushing doing the vocals the song became a hit in 1938.
           The band returned to Chicago for another engagement and made a switch from Decca to Columbia. From 1938 thru 1945 the band worked on the west coast and were in several movies Hit Parade, Reveille With Beverly, Stage Door Canteen, Top Man and Crazy Horse. In 1945 the Count Basie Band had several hits on the pop and rhythm & blues charts (I Don't Know About You), on the pop charts "Red Bank Blues" on the rhythm & blues charts, "Jimmy Blues", "Blue Skies", and "Rusty Dusty Blues." In late 1945 the band signed with RCA and had an immediate hit with "Open The Door Richard" "Free Eats", "One O'Clock Boogie" "I Ain't Mad At You" and "You Aint Mad With Me". When the big band sound lost much of it's appeal in the late 40's most bands broke up or became a small band.
           Basie took the same trend then discovered touring was a great way to bring in revenue. In 1952 he put the big band sound back together and went overseas and discovered a whole new world of fans that sold out every venue he played. In short order to Basie's surprise overnight he became an International Star. By 1957 Count Basie had re-established himself commercially and had another hit on Clef records with "Everyday I Have The Blues" which went to #5 on the rhythm & blues charts and inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame. The band hit again in 1956 with "April In Paris" with was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Count Basie band earned many Grammy awards down through the years. Count Basie is a true giant in the entertainment industry. Count Basie played for his many fans until a heart attack in 1976 then after his recovery he returned to doing what he loved best entertaining for the public. He died in 1979 from cancer.
           Cab Calloway and Count Basie in many ways paved the way for the blues artist of the late 40's and early 50's. Calloway and Basie rubbed elbows with the white establishment and didn't run up against as many walls as the Mississippi blues artist did in their quest to get their records played and receive royalties for their recording. Calloway and Basie were better educated and didn't come from the deep south where everything was harder for a black person. They came from a slicked up world and they dressed, talked, and acted like white folks. They both went to Hollywood made movies moved in and out of the same neighbor hoods as their white friends. They did not live in Greenwood, Clarksdale or Indianola, Miss. They most likely had no idea how much difference there was in the life style of John Lee Hooker and Cab Calloway. Cab Calloway slicked up his music to relate to white people, not that he didn't want blacks to hear his music, blacks did hear his music as he worked the Cotton Club in new York.
           How did Cab Calloway and Count Basie pave the way for the blues artist. They opened doors at the record companies, Excello, Imperial, Chess, Peacock, King and Specialty knew black artist could make them money they had seen the big labels do it with Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Nat King Cole, and Dizzy Gillespie. They were eager to do business with the likes of Slim Harpo, Guitar Gable, B.B. King, Muddy Waters and many blues artist who would come knocking on their door, were they honest with the black blues artist, WLAC Nashville tells the story about the life and times of four DJ's who were dealing with many of these problems. At first John R, Gene Nobles, Hoss Allen and Herman Grizzard didn't realize it. Later it's clear what was happening to them and the black artist whose records they played. White America was not ready for this kind of jungle music and these records must not continue to be played and the DJ's playing this junglistic stump beating trash must be stopped. WLAC NASHVILLE is a great story that uncovers much of was going on in the south in the 1950's. It's fun, it's serious, it's laughter, it's sad, all in all it's a story full of life about life and ask's the question why does life have to be the way it is.
-Widmarc Clark

 

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Last modified: 11/11/06