A young and promising William Basie
quickly noticed by a young and ambitious Cab Calloway
That's right! For an announcement effect, admit that it is powerful. The Count at the Cab. That was almost done. And from 1929! Count Basie and Cab met at the time when young Calloway was the leader of the Alabamians. A great friendship was born between the two men... The Hi de Ho Blog reveals a little more...
The Alabamians, with Marion Hardy as leader (Cab is not on the picture)
1929, El Torreon, Kansas City
Basie met Cab very early in his career during the time with the Alabamians, when their tour stopped by Kansas City in July and August 1929, at the El Torreon Ballroom. Count Basie remembers: "I met a hell of a great guy and struck up a very special friendship that has continued right on up to the present day. His name is Cab Calloway."
Ad for the night Benny Moten's band and The Alabamians shared the stage at El Torreon, Kansas City (July 19, 1929)
1937, The Apollo, New York: "Whatever happens, if you need anything, see me first."
Cab "had reserved a choice table for us, and between sets he came over and we chatted. Then when we got ready t leave, I told him how much we enjoyed the show, and he took me aside for a minute. "Look, I wish you all the success in the world, and if at any time you get into any trouble here, let me be the first one you see before you see anyone else.""I'll never forget that. He was one of the most popular names in show business at that time, and he was still just as much for me as he had been back when I first met him." (...)"No matter what happens. If you make it or you don't. Whatever happens, if you need anything, see me first."
Ads for the consecutive engagements of Count Basie and Cab Calloway at the Apollo.
One night after Count's gig, Cab went backstage and spoke to Count... (source: Franz Hoffmann)
This friendship lasted and the two men often met. Their common traces can be found in various places: at charity or tribute concerts, at parties (at the home of black actress Hattie McDaniel in August 1942)...
Here are some of the photographed encounteers...
October 1941, The Famous Door, New York: with Dick Stabile after a concert
(source: Metronome magazine)
1945, June 5: Paramount Theatre, New York.
Count introduces Cab Calloway and his pianist Benny Payne, and the orchestra even backed them for a couple of bars. No photo here but much better: sound!
Listen to Count Basie and Cab Calloway during a tribute to Glenn Miller
(Read our full-length story of that evening)
The historical petanque game filmed by Swiss Jean-Roland Hippenmeyer (Nice, France, July 8, 1977)
1978, November 11: Cab, Debbie Reynolds and Count Basie, Los Angeles
That evening, Cab, with Debbie Reynolds at his side, presented the The Thalians' "Mr. Wonderful Award" to Count Basie, topping the star-studded "Thalians an All That Jazz" 23rd annual gala ball in Los Angeles.
On the race tracks!
Basie and Calloway met regularly outside the concert halls: on the racetracks. Both were avid gamblers (it cost Calloway his fortune, but we'll devote a whole article to it). When they met at the racetrack, near the betting booths, they just stared at each other without exchanging a word. A way to encourage or challenge each other...
Cab singing in front of the Count Basie Orchestra, Freeborn Hall, 1984
(photo courtesy of Keller Whalen)
Cab Calloway singing in front of the Count Basie Orchestra in 1984, New Orleans (photo: André Clergeat)
1984, April 30, Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York
Of course, Cab attended his friend's funerals. He was there with his wife Nuffie. Also in the attendance were the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams (who sang Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday"), Billy Taylor, Woody Herman, George Shearing, Quincy Jones, and of course Freddie Green.
Count and Cab "one more time", for the last time.
Good morning Blues : the autobiography of Count Basie, Albert MURRAY.
to the late Chrétien LAEMMEL for the picture of the 2 "pétanqueurs",
to the late André CLERGEAT for the New Orleans picture,
to Keller WHALEN for the Freeborn Hall picture and for his help on this article and everywhere else on this site.