[Dixielandjazz] I remember Eddie Calhoun!

Charlie Hooks charliehooks@earthlink.net
Mon, 24 Jun 2002 23:36:13 -0500

on 6/23/02 9:12 PM, Lzch12@aol.com at Lzch12@aol.com wrote:

      Hey Charlie,

      Thanks for the word on the List. I probably wouldn't be a big
contributor anyway but do like to feel like I can say something once in a
      In reading about Truck Parham, I was reminded of a bass player that
Liz and I had met in Northern Michigan. The guy was a heck of player and all
round fine fellow but a very quiet type. He was living in a town called
Idlewald that used to be a great gathering place for well known black
entertainers but I did manage to get him to tell me that he had retired
there after playing in Chicago. Not until he died did I find out that he had
played and recorded with Earl Garner, and the high regard that some well
known players had for him. His name was Eddie Calhoun. Had you ever run into
him, Charlie?   chuck

                 Eddie Calhoun?  Well, yes indeed!

Boy, do you bring back memories!  I first heard of Eddie on Garner
recordings back in the early fifties and loved listening to him on my AR-1
speaker that was the greatest bass repro of any monaural system (would
repreduce the fundamental tone from a 32 foot organ pipe)--"Most Happy
Piano" and  the "Palisades" album.  Played those recordings over and over,
as much for the great bass lines and sound as for Erroll.

   Then when I came to Chicago in 1978, danged if Eddie Calhoun didn't live
and work right here in the city.  He was pretty busy, but I hired him when I
could get him.  He lived on the South side in a fairly decent neighborhood,
but still behind several sets of steel bars and many chains.  I'd pick him
up sometimes and we'd listen to his records before or after a gig.  Always
found it hard to believe that this li'l ole white boy was playing with a man
of Eddie's skill.  He just had that great Black Feel down to an art form, a
natural great talent.

   Another great talent: he could smoke enormous quantities of weed and
still play, maybe play better, but who knew: never worked with him on the
straight.  This is a talent I've never had: pot just freezes me physically
and mentally: trouble recalling my name, etc.   So I've always left it
alone, preferring to drink some Bushmills chased by Guinness (or vice versa
at times) and still play.  I think.  Not sure about that, either, but of
course it always sounds good to me.

   There's a tale here, if I can find it:

   One spring evening I had booked a job over in Indiana--a Notre Dame frat
party--and this time Eddie decided that he'd drive me in his car.   This was
a decision I came soon to repent, for while Eddie could smoke and play
beautifully, Eddie could not smoke and drive at all, a fact I did not as yet

   OK.  We packed up.  Then we started west on I-90 back to Chicago.  And it
began to rain.  Brother, did it ever!

   Visualize: this is no ordinary rain.  This is Noah's Ark rain.   The very
drops are pint-sized, exploding against the pavement, on our vantop, all
over the landscape and misting into sheets of water dancing in front of us,
almost cutting off visibility.  And Eddie is cool.   Eddie is tootling along
the Interstate.  Eddie is (I glance at the speedometer) doing a really cool
37 miles an hour.  I mean, he is a happy man, not a worry on earth and
humming (to prove to me he remembered it) "I Remember Clifford."   I swear
I'm not making this up!

   18-wheelers are blowing by us with airhorns blasting!  On both sides,
because we are in the middle lane.   I said, "Uh, Eddie?  Do you think we
might, maybe, better move, uh, over to the slow lane?"   And Eddie, after
thinking about it for quite some time, said, "Oh...Ah...Yeah...Maybe so."
Seemed to take most of the 90 miles back to Chicago to get Eddie over into
the right lane.   Meanwhile cars are sliding off the road, spinning out,
pontooning over the waterfilled highway--and we are like Mr. Magoo, somehow
creeping along in utter safety by pure accident.  God loves him, too!

   Eddie's solution is to light another joint.

    So, yeah, you might say I "ran into Eddie Calhoun."  Loved him.  But
never again let him drive!