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Calloway, Cab 1907–1994

Cab Calloway 19071994

Singer, bandleader, actor

Begins a Life of Music

Became a Big Band Legend

Continues a Lifetime of Performing

Sources

Looking at the long, rich career of Cab Calloway, a career that spans more than half a century, one is struck not only by his sheer longevity, but also by the vibrant energy and positive attitude he maintained until his death in 1994. Indeed, Calloway stands as a monument against the popular stereotype of the tragic black jazz musician besieged by racism and drug addiction. Although Calloway was exposed to these social ills, he was able to overcome them by focusing on the integrity of his music. As Calloway recounted in a 1990 Chicago Tribune interview, you tried to concentrate on your performance and tried to forget that there were hardly any blacks in the audience. It was this kind of perseverance, the creation of the charismatic hipster image, and a genuine musical talent that made Calloway one of the twentieth centurys most popular performers, as well as one of the first to smash racial barriers.

Born on December 25, 1907, Cabell Calloway HI was immersed in music from infancy. With his mother performing as a church organist and his siblings Elmer and Blanche as budding professional performers, the course of Calloways life comes as little surprise. In addition, Calloway was given strong guidance and inspiration from his grandmother, who helped nurture the young Cabell after his father passed away at an early age. Whether working as a stable boy, shining shoes, or hawking newspapers in the streets of his hometown of Baltimore, Calloway possessed a strong desire to succeed. He soon became interested in music and joined the Baltimore Melody Boys, a high school musical group, as a vocalist. As a member of the Baltimore Melody Boys, Calloway developed his distinctive vocal style under the influence of a local jazz singer, William Chick Webb.

Begins a Life of Music

After completing high school, Calloway briefly put his musical interests on hold to pursue a law degree at Chicagos Crane College. However, he soon realized that the dynamic world of jazz and musical theater was more to his liking. Rather than returning to Baltimore, Calloway abandoned law school and stayed on in the Windy City. Attempting to find his niche, he tried his hand at amateur prize-fighting, drumming, and saxophone playing. Although Calloway did not find success in

At a Glance

Born Cabell Calloway III, December 25, 1907, m Rochester NY; died on November 18, 1994, in Westchester NY; son of Cabell Calloway II; married Zu I me MacNeal; children; Camay, Constance, EuJalie, Chris, and Cabella. Education: attended Crane College, Chicago.

Career: Leader of the Alabamians, 1928; leader of the Missourians, 1929; Cab Calloway Band, 1930-48; significant recordings: Minnie the Moocher, St.James Infirmary, Kickinthe GongAround, The Scat Song, The Jumpin Jive, Reefer Man, Lady with the Fan, ZazZuhZaz, Are You Hep to the jive, Are You All Reef; appeared in films including: The Big Broadcast, 1932, International House, 1933, The Singing Kid, 1936, Stormy Weather, 1943, Sensations of 1945, 1944, St Louis Blues, 1958, The Cincinnati Kid, 1965, The Blues Brothers, 1980; starred in stage plays Porgy and Bess, 1952-54, Hello, Dolly; ASCAP 1942-94.

Awards: Ebony Lifetime Achievement Award, 1980, National Medal of Arts, 1992.

any of these endeavors, he soon gained renown for his abilities as a scat singer. In 1927, he appeared in the musical stage revue Plantation Days alongside his sister Blanche and, before long, was hired for a debut solo gig at Chicagos Dreamland venue.

Became a Big Band Legend

As the end of the 1920s drew near, Calloway assembled his first band, the Alabamians. The Alabamians were only a fleeting endeavor, disbanding and re-emerging as the Missourians by the end of the decade. In 1929, the Missourians found great success at Harlems legendary Savoy Theater and their popularity subsequently led to a string of touring engagements, as well as Calloways casting in Fats Wallers Hot Chocolates stage revue. In 1931, the Missourians were renamed the Cab Calloway Band and replaced Duke Ellington as the house act at the Cotton Club, an engagement that lasted for the next eight years. Calloway also cut his first recordings in 1931, including Minnie the Moodier, which became an international hit. The songs repeated nonsense chorus gave Calloway his life-long nickname of the Hi-De-Ho Man, and served as the perfect vehicle for his newly created hipster image and singing style. Calloways white tuxedo and tails, his wildly flailed hair, and his frantic stage presence soon became his personal trademarks.

Calloways music continued to grow in popularity in the 1930s through both live performances and hit records, notably St. James Infirmary, The Jumpin Jive, Lady with the Fan, and Zaz Zuh Zaz. Although some critics dismissed Calloway as merely an entertainer, he made notable contributions to the annals of jazz music and American culture. On one level, Calloways music was a savvy, slang filled satire of the drug-crazed, mob-controlled lifestyle which surrounded the jazz clubs of the period. In this way, Calloways songs such as Minnie the Moocher and Reefer Man gave listeners a candid look into the dark side of jazz without condoning it. In fact, Calloway reportedly fired any band members who were caught with drugs in their possession. In addition, Calloways singing style was itself a daring blend of vocal effects. While he did not invent scat, a technique involving nonsense syllables and a wildly changing range of pitches and intensities, Calloways use of scatting was innovative, and was to influence later generations of vocal experimenters. Overall, Calloway presented a sense of style, an attitude of sheer positivity that in itself surely can be hailed as a great contribution. Through his band leading, singing, dancing, dressing and sense of both humor and nonsense, Mr. Calloway introduced almost single-handedly a new wildness and extravagance to American culture, critic Peter Wa-trous was quoted as saying in a 1994 Washington Post article. In short, Calloways perfection of the hipster image added a new character to our popular mythology.

Throughout the 1930s and the early 1940s the popularity of the Big Band sound held fast, and Calloway remained one of its mainstays. In 1934 he embarked on the first of many European tours, a tradition that would last for the rest of his life. This period also marked the beginning of Calloways appearance in many Hollywood films, including The Big Broadcast (1932), International House (1936), and Stormy Weather (1943). Motion pictures may have helped to foster Calloways image, as his frenetic performance and exuberant presence lent themselves perfectly to the medium. In between the filming, recording, and touring, Calloway also made many friendships with future jazz greats, acting as a mentor to many. Saxophonists Ben Webster and Chu Berry, trumpet players Jonah Jones and Dizzy Gillespie, bassist Milt Hinton, and vocalists Lena Home and Pearl Bailey were all proteges of Calloway.

Continues a Lifetime of Performing

Although waning interest in the Big Band sound during the late 1940s reduced his popularity, Calloways energy and devotion to performing remained strong. He disbanded his orchestra in 1948 and performed as a soloist before embarking on a European tour. In 1952, Calloway returned to his roots in musical theater in a road version of George Gershwins Porgy and Bess in the role of Sportin Life. Although he had turned down the role two decades earlier, Calloway claimed that Gershwin tailored Sportin Life especially to fit his style, and indeed his natural grace in the role led to his appearance in several revivals. Meanwhile, Calloway maintained his touring, although more sporadically, in both the United States and abroad, notably as a half time performer for the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1960s. By the 1970s, a revived interest in Big Band music helped put Calloway back in the spotlight, resulting in several tours including the nostalgic Sounds of the Forties series. Calloway also returned to the stage, this time in an all-black performance of Hello Dolly in 1974. Rather than fade away into retirement, Calloway had made a remarkable comeback.

Calloways show stopping performance of Minnie the Moocher in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers exposed the singer to younger audiences once again. That same year, he was presented with the Ebony Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding career. For audiences young and old, Calloway had in fact become more than just a performer. Im a legend, he smilingly admitted to the New York Times in 1988. You cant be in show business for sixty years and not be a legend. He continued to play a number of engagements, including a Cotton Club revival series and a performance accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra when he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1992. Although a stroke and other health problems reduced Calloways performing schedule, his attitude remained positive. On November 18, 1994, Calloway passed away at the age of eighty-six. The world had lost not only a singer, a survivor, and a legend, but also a living embodiment of the joy of performing.

Sources

Books

Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, edited by Eileen Southern, Glenwood Press, 1982, pp. 61-62.

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, Vol. 7, edited by Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, and Cornel West, Simon & Schuster, 1996, pp. 487-488.

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, July 29, 1990, Section 13, pp. 12. New York Times, January 7, 1988, Section C, pp. 18. Washington Post, November 20, 1994, Section B, pp.5.

Shaun Frentner

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Calloway, Cab

Cab Calloway

Singer, bandleader

Invited to the Cotton Club

Hepsters Dictionary

Shone in The Blues Brothers

Selected discography

Sources

Cab Calloway was a famous singer and bandleader in 1930, and some 60 years later, he is still going strong. At an age when most people retire and rest on old laurels, Calloway keeps a full schedule of touring with a band and singing his signature song, Minnie the Moocher. Long ago dubbed the Dean of American Jive, Calloway has brought the joys of the jazzy big band sound to the under-40 generations, helping to preserve the very style he helped to create.

Calloway was born Cabell Calloway III, in Rochester, New York. When he was six his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where his father practiced law and sold real estate. Although young Cab enjoyed singing solos at the Bethlehem Methodist Episcopal Church, it was assumed that he would follow in his fathers footsteps and study law. Cab had other ideas, however. His older sister had found work singing with a show in Chicago, and he appealed to her for advice. Her advice was substantialshe sent him a train ticket, and when he arrived in Chicago, she set him up as a singer with a quartet. He was still in his teens.

Calloway himself gives 1925 as the year his career began. By that time he had become a talented drummer, and he secured a position with the Sunset Cafe orchestra in Chicago. He did not hide behind a drum set for long, however. Within two yearsor by his twentieth birthdayhe had organized his own orchestra and was singing lead vocals again. The group, Cab Calloway and his Alabamians, became quite popular in Chicago and eventually took a booking at the Savoy Ballroom in New York City. That engagement did not go well, and Calloway dissolved the band. He was about to return to Chicago when he landed a part in a Broadway comedy, Connies Hot Chocolates. The show was an all-black revue, and Calloway brought the house down with his rendition of Aint Misbehavin.

Invited to the Cotton Club

Broadway manager Irving Mills encouraged Calloway to form another band, so the young musician gathered another orchestra and immediately found work in the well-attended Harlem speakeasies and nightclubs. In 1929 he was invited to fill in for Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club, and thereafter the two band leaders alternated engagements at the prestigious venue. It was during his years at the Cotton Club that Calloway developed his crisp, jazzy song-and-dance style, and it was there that he composed and debuted Minnie the Moocher.

Calloway was one of the first performers to make deliberate use of scat singing in his act. As with so many

For the Record

Born Cabell Calloway III December 25, 1907, in Rochester, NY; son of Cabell (a lawyer and real estate broker) and Eulalia (Reed) Calloway; children: Constance, Chris. Education: Attended Crane College, Chicago, IL.

Singer, songwriter, bandleader, 1925. Drummer with the Sunset Cafe orchestra, Chicago, 1925; formed his own band, Cab Calloway and His Alabamians, c. 1927; moved to New York City for appearances at the Savoy Ballroom. Formed and became leader of the Cab Calloway Orchestra, which performed regularly at the Cotton Club, New York City, 1929. Has toured extensively in the United States and Europe since 1935; entertained American and Canadian troops during World War II.

Principal film work includes Hi De Ho, Cabs Jitterbug Party, c. 1932; The Big Broadcast, 1932; International House, 1933; Roadshow, 1941; Stormy Weather, 1943; Sensations of 1944, 1944; and The Blues Brothers, 1980. Appeared on Broadway as Sportin Life in Porgy and Bess and as Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly!

Addresses: Home White Plains, NY.

others, he began scat singingrandom use of nonsense syllableswhen he forgot a songs lyrics. Audiences loved the sound, however, so he began to write tunes with scat choruses. Minnie the Moocher, his best-known song, is one such composition. Its refrainhi de hi de hi de hoinvites the audience to sing along in the old call-and-response style. Recordings of Minnie the Moocher have sold in the millions worldwide, and at least one version is still available in record stores.

Hepsters Dictionary

Calloways fame soared in the 1930s and 1940s. He appeared in such films as International House and Stormy Weather, he helped to popularize the jitterbug with tunes like Jumpin Jive, Reefer Man, It Aint Necessarily So, and If This Isnt Love, and he even wrote a popular book, Hepsters Dictionary, which sold two million copies and ran into six editions. Although Calloways name does not spring to mind in association with the big band era, he actually fronted a fine ensemble during the period. His ability to pay top salaries attracted a group of brilliant musicians, including sax players Chu Berry, Ben Webster, and Hilton Jefferson, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Jonah Jones, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Cozy Cole. In his book The Big Bands, George T. Simon noted: the esprit de corps of the Calloway band was tremendous, and the great pride that the musicians possessed as individuals and as a group paid off handsomely in the music they created.

The years of World War II found Calloway entertaining troops in the United States and Canada. After the war he returned to club work and to the Broadway stage, most notably as Sportin Life in the George Gershwin operetta Porgy and Bess. In the late 1960s he took another important Broadway role, that of Horace Vandergelder in the all-black version of Hello, Dolly! His work with Pearl Bailey in that show was the culmination of a long friendshiphe had helped Bailey get a start in show business in 1945 by hiring her to help him with vocals. Even though he was 60 when he appeared in Hello, Dolly!, Calloway never missed a step in the strenuous show. In fact, he was just hitting his stride.

Shone in The Blues Brothers

The energetic performers career received an enormous boost when he was asked to star in a 1980 film, The Blues Brothers. The movie, which also starred John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, gave Calloway the opportunity to perform Minnie the Moocher for an audience young enough to be his grandchildrenand, clad in a snazzy white zoot suit with tails, he made the number the highlight of the film. Critics who otherwise panned The Blues Brothers singled Calloway out for praise, and his popularity soared.

Today Calloway is still on the road most of the time, sometimes performing with his daughter Chris. Philadelphia Inquirer correspondent John Rogers observed that, even in his 80s, Calloway struts around the stage like some nimble tightrope walker. Rogers added: [His] moves have slowed a bit since the 30s, a time when Calloway could have danced Michael Jackson or Mick Jagger into the ground. The hair is white and thinner now, the midsection thicker, and that classically handsome face lined and puffy after eight decades of full-throttle living. But every bit of his voice is still thereand every bit of the style and grace that made the legend.

Asked if he has any heroes in the music business, Calloway scoffs at the very idea. It is easy to understand why he might not idolize Ellington or Webster or Gillespiehe simply ranks right up there with them, on the fine edge where new music is made. Ill tell you who my heroes are, he said. My heroes are the notes, man. The music itself. You understand what Im saying? I love the music. The music is my hero.

Selected discography

Jumpin Five, Zeta.

Live 1944 (with Ike Quebec), Magnetic.

Live 1945 (with Quebec), Magnetic.

Best of the Big Bands: Cab Calloway, Columbia.

Cab Calloway, Glendale.

The Hi-De Ho Man, Columbia.

Mr. Hi-De-Ho, MCA.

(Contributor) The Blues Brothers, 1980.

Sources

Books

Calloway, Cab, Of Minnie the Moocher and Me, Crowell, 1976.

Simon, George T., The Big Bands, Macmillan, 1967.

Simon, George T., Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.

Periodicals

Philadelphia Inquirer, August 16, 1990.

Anne Janette Johnson

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Cab Calloway

Cab Calloway

Cab Calloway (1907-1994), blues and scat legend, entertained generations of people with his jazzy big band sounds. Even in his golden years, Calloway still traveled on the road and performed for his fans.

Cab Calloway was a famous singer and bandleader beginning in the lively era of the 1920s, and he remained active in music throughout his golden years. At an age when most people retire and rest on old laurels, Calloway kept a full schedule of touring with a band and singing his signature song, "Minnie the Moocher." Long ago dubbed the "Dean of American Jive," Calloway brought the joys of the jazzy big band sound to many generations, helping to preserve the very style he helped to create.

Calloway was born Cabell Calloway III, in Rochester, New York. When he was six his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where his father practiced law and sold real estate. Although young Cab enjoyed singing solos at the Bethlehem Methodist Episcopal Church, it was assumed that he would follow in his father's footsteps and study law. Cab had other ideas, however. His older sister had found work singing with a show in Chicago, and he appealed to her for advice. Her guidance was substantial—she sent him a train ticket, and when he arrived in Chicago, she set him up as a singer with a quartet. He was still in his teens.

Calloway has noted that his career began in 1925. By that time he had become a talented drummer and secured a position with the Sunset Cafe orchestra in Chicago. He did not hide behind a drum set for long. Within two years—or by his twentieth birthday—he had organized his own orchestra and was singing lead vocals again. The group, Cab Calloway and his Alabamians, became quite popular in Chicago and eventually took a booking at the Savoy Ballroom in New York City. That engagement did not go well, and Calloway dissolved the band. He was about to return to Chicago when he landed a part in a Broadway comedy, Connie's Hot Chocolates. The show was an all-black revue, and Calloway brought the house down with his rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'."

Broadway manager Irving Mills encouraged Calloway to form another band, so the young musician gathered another orchestra and immediately found work in the well-attended Harlem speakeasies and nightclubs. In 1929 he was invited to fill in for Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club, and thereafter the two band leaders alternated engagements at the prestigious venue. It was during his years at the Cotton Club that Calloway developed his crisp, jazzy song-and-dance style, and it was there that he composed and debuted "Minnie the Moocher."

Calloway was one of the first performers to make deliberate use of scat singing—random use of nonsense syllables—in his act. As with so many others, he began scat singing when he forgot a song's lyrics. Audiences loved the sound, however, so he began to write tunes with scat choruses. "Minnie the Moocher," his best-known song, is one such composition. Its refrain—"hi de hi de hi de ho"— invites the audience to sing along in the old call-and-response style. Recordings of "Minnie the Moocher" have sold in the millions worldwide.

Calloway's fame soared in the 1930s and 1940s. He appeared in such films as International House and Stormy Weather, he helped to popularize the jitterbug with tunes like "Jumpin' Jive," "Reefer Man," "It Ain't Necessarily So," and "If This Isn't Love," and he even wrote a popular book, Hepster's Dictionary, which sold two million copies and ran into six editions. Although Calloway's is not always associated with the big band era, he actually fronted a fine ensemble during the period. His ability to pay top salaries attracted a group of brilliant musicians, including sax players Chu Berry, Ben Webster, and Hilton Jefferson; trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Jonah Jones; bassist Milt Hinton; and drummer Cozy Cole. In his book The Big Bands, George T. Simon noted: "the esprit de corps of the Calloway band was tremendous, and the great pride that the musicians possessed as individuals and as a group paid off handsomely in the music they created."

The years of World War II found Calloway entertaining troops in the United States and Canada. After the war he returned to club work and to the Broadway stage, most notably as Sportin' Life in the George Gershwin operetta Porgy and Bess. In the late 1960s he took another important Broadway role, that of Horace Vandergelder in the all-black version of Hello, Dolly! His work with Pearl Bailey in that show was the culmination of a long friendship—he had helped Bailey get a start in show business in 1945 by hiring her to help him with vocals. Even though he was 60 when he appeared in Hello, Dolly!, Calloway never missed a step in the strenuous show. In fact, he was just hitting his stride.

The energetic performer's career received an enormous boost when he was asked to star in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. The movie, which also starred John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, gave Calloway the opportunity to perform "Minnie the Moocher" for an audience young enough to be his grandchildren—and, clad in a snazzy white zoot suit with tails, he made the number the highlight of the film. Critics who otherwise panned The Blues Brothers singled Calloway out for praise, and his popularity soared.

Into his 80s, Calloway stayed on the road most of the time, sometimes performing with his daughter Chris. Philadelphia Inquirer correspondent John Rogers observed that Calloway strutted around the stage "like some nimble tightrope walker." Rogers added: "[His] moves have slowed a bit since the '30s, a time when Calloway could have danced Michael Jackson or Mick Jagger into the ground. The hair is white and thinner now, the midsection thicker, and that classically handsome face lined and puffy after eight decades of full-throttle living. But every bit of his voice is still there—and every bit of the style and grace that made the legend."

In June of 1994 Calloway suffered a stroke and died that November. He was survived by his wife, Nuffie, whom he married in 1953. When once asked if he has any heroes in the music business, Calloway scoffed at the very idea. It is easy to undersand why he might not idolize Webster or Gillespie—he helped give them their start, along with other notables such as Pearl Bailey and Lena Horne. "I'll tell you who my heroes are," he said. "My heroes are the notes, man. The music itself. You understand what I'm saying? I love the music. The music is my hero."

Further Reading

Calloway, Cab, Of Minnie the Moocher and Me, Crowell, 1976.

Simon, George T., The Big Bands, Macmillan, 1967.

Simon, George T., Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.

Los Angeles Times, November 20, 1994, p. A1.

New York Times, November 20, 1994, p. 59.

Philadelphia Inquirer, August 16, 1990.

Times (London), November 21, 1994, p. 21.

Washington Post, November 20, 1994, p. B5. □

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Calloway, Cab

Cab Calloway

Born: December 25, 1907
Rochester, New York
Died: November 18, 1994
Hockessin, Delaware

African American singer, songwriter, and bandleader

Best known for the song "Minnie the Moocher," Cab Calloway was a famous singer and bandleader beginning in the 1920s, and he remained active in music throughout his golden years.

Early years

Cabell Calloway III was born on December 25, 1907, in Rochester, New York, the second of Cabell and Eulalia Reed Calloway's six children. When he was six his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where his father practiced law and sold real estate. Young Cab enjoyed singing in church, but he was expected to follow in his father's footsteps and study law. Except, his older sister Blanche had found work singing with a show in Chicago, Illinois, and after graduating from high school Calloway appealed to her for advice. She sent him a train ticket, and when he arrived in Chicago she gave him acting lessons and found him a job as a singer. He attended Crane College briefly, but he was committed to show business.

Popular bandleader

By 1925 Calloway was working as a drummer with the Sunset Cafe band in Chicago. By his twentieth birthday he had organized his own orchestra and was singing lead vocals again. The group, Cab Calloway and his Alabamians, became popular in Chicago, and eventually was hired to play at the Savoy Ballroom in New York City. That engagement did not go well, and Calloway dissolved the band. He was about to return to Chicago when he landed a part in a Broadway comedy, Connie's Hot Chocolates, in which Calloway was praised for his rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'."

After Broadway manager Irving Mills encouraged Calloway to form another band, Calloway put together another orchestra and immediately found work in New York nightclubs. In 1929 he was invited to fill in for Duke Ellington (18991974) at the Cotton Club, and for the next decade the two band-leaders played alternating engagements at the famous venue. It was during his Cotton Club years that Calloway developed his crisp, jazzy song-and-dance style.

Calloway was one of the first performers to purposely use scat singing, or random use of nonsense syllables. As with so many others, he began scat singing when he forgot a song's lyrics. Audiences loved the sound, however, so he began to write tunes with scat choruses. Calloway's trademark song "Minnie the Moocher" is one such composition. Its refrain"hi de hi de hi de ho"invites the audience to sing along. Recordings of "Minnie the Moocher" have sold millions of copies worldwide.

Musician, actor, author

Calloway was very popular in the 1930s and 1940s. He appeared in such films as International House and Stormy Weather. He helped to popularize the jitterbug with songs like "Jumpin' Jive," "Reefer Man," and "It Ain't Necessarily So." He even wrote a book, Hepster's Dictionary, which sold two million copies. Although Calloway is not always associated with the big-band era, he worked with many brilliant musicians who were attracted by the top salaries he was able to pay.

During World War II (193945) Calloway entertained troops in the United States and Canada. After the war he returned to club work and to Broadway, most notably as the character of Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess. In the 1960s he took another Broadway role, that of Horace Vandergelder in the all-black version of Hello, Dolly! His work with Pearl Bailey (19181990) was the highlight of a long friendshiphe had helped Bailey get a start in show business in 1945.

Popular in his eighties

Calloway's appearance in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers gave him the opportunity to perform "Minnie the Moocher" for an audience young enough to be his grandchildren. Dressed in a white suit with tails, he made the song the highlight of the film. Critics praised Calloway, and his popularity soared. Calloway continued to perform into his eighties, sometimes joined by his daughter Chris. The Philadelphia Inquirer observed that "his moves have slowed a bit since the '30s. But every bit of his voice is still thereand every bit of the style and grace that made the legend."

Cab Calloway died in November 1994, five months after suffering a stroke. He was survived by his wife, Nuffie, whom he married in 1953. When once asked if he had any heroes in the music business, Calloway scoffed at the very idea. "I'll tell you who my heroes are," he said. "My heroes are the notes, man. The music itself. You understand what I'm saying? I love the music. The music is my hero."

For More Information

Calloway, Cab. Of Minnie the Moocher and Me. New York: Crowell, 1976.

Simon, George T. The Big Bands. New York: Macmillan, 1967.

Simon, George T. Best of the Music Makers. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1979.

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Calloway, Cab

Cab Calloway (Cabell Calloway) (kăl´əwā´), 1907–94, jazz singer and band leader, b. Rochester, N.Y. Known for his inventive creativity, he hired some of the top musicians of his day for his jazz orchestra, including Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Hinton; he also promoted singers Pearl Bailey and Lena Horne. Cab Calloway and his band became famous as a result of radio broadcasts (1931–32) from New York City's Cotton Club, and were one of the highest earning bands of the 1930s and 40s. His hits included "Minnie the Moocher" (1931) and "Blues in the Night" (1942). He also appeared in several films.

See his Of Minnie the Moocher and Me (1976, with B. Rollins); biography by A. Shipton (2010).

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"Calloway, Cab." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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