Cab Calloway was a legendary figure in American pop culture.An energetic showman, gifted singer and talented actor, Calloway also led one of the greatest bands of the Swing Era.
Through his "party" songs and Hepster's Dictionary, Calloway provided a vast lexicon for the youth subculture that surrounded the swing genre
Cabell "Cab" Calloway III was born on Christmas Day 1907 in Rochester (DRINK!), NY.--the family would later move to Baltimore, MD.His middle-class parents had hoped that Cabell would become a lawyer (as his father), but the young Calloway had dreams of being an entertainer,and despite his parents' disapproval of jazz, Calloway began frequenting and eventually performing in many of Baltimore's jazz clubs.It was in one of these clubs, that he met trumpeter Louis Armstrong, who taught him to sing in the scat style.
In 1930, the Cotton Club emerged as a hip new night spot in Harlem, known for its lavish stage shows and talented musicians — most notably Duke Ellington. Calloway's singing and showmanship captured the attention of the owner, and his band was hired to replace the Ellington band.
In 1931, Calloway and his manager, Irving Mills, put together a song that will forever be identified with Calloway: "Minnie the Moocher." That song and "St. James Infirmary Blues" and "The Old Man Of The Mountain" were performed for the Betty Boop animated shorts; Minnie the Moocher, Snow White and The Old Man of the Mountain, respectively. Through rotoscoping, Calloway not only gave his voice to these cartoons but his dance steps as well.
Betty Boop: The Old Man Of The Mountain (1933):
By the late 1930s, Calloway's band was one of the top-grossing acts in jazz, and had become a proving ground for young talents such as Dizzy Gillespie.By the late '40s, however, Calloway's financial mismanagement and gambling caught up with him, and the band broke up.
In his later career Calloway became a popular personality, appearing in a number of films (among them Hi De Ho, in which Cab Calloway plays himself in a plot about jealousy, night clubs, and gangsters) and stage productions that utilized both his acting and singing talents.Many of you may remember him best for his role in 1980's The Blues Brothers.
In May 1994, Calloway suffered a stroke then died six months later on November 18, 1994.
In the player below:
MINNIE THE MOOCHER; Moon at Sea; Old Yazoo; Peckin'; REEFER MAN; She's Tall, She's Tan, She's Terrific; SMOKIN REEFERS; THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE; The Scat Song
... and as an added bonus, here's Cab Calloway's "The Man From Harlem" recorded on November 30, 1932.
This track is eerily similar to Lou Reed's "I'm Waiting for the Man" from The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut album.