[Dixielandjazz] Preacher Rollo

Will Connelly willc@nova.edu
Sun, 22 Sep 2002 22:25:22 -0400

Dan - 
Rollo Laylan lived and worked in Miami in the 50s through 70s. His
Saints band started with Marie Marcus on piano, Tony Parenti on
clarinet, Tom Justice on trumpet, a bass man who used to be a cameraman
at WTVJ and Creature on drums. Bobby Rosen - ex Phil Napoleon - replaced
Marcus and Ernie Goodson replaced Parenti. There's a little more about
Rollo in my article on Teagarden/Carmichael expatriate Tom Justice some
months ago in the Mississippi Rag.

One of Rollo's hands was crippled and was essentially useless for
drumming. Nevertheless, he was a good drummer and timekeeper - good
enough to work for Paul Whiteman. Some of his stories about working in
the Whiteman band were probably true. He also claimed to have invented
radar, sonar and other elements of technology that were entirely
responsible for US victory in WWII. Su-uu-re he did. 

The man was a hustler, and he had a good band to back his play. The
Saints had a long-running national radio show (CBS??) and cut a few
records for MGM. The band worked the top clubs/hotels in Miami and Palm
Beach. Last I heard of Rollo, he was working in a Radio Shack in Miami -
I am fairly sure he's gone to that big band in the sky now. He was a
martinet and was unreliable about meeting payrolls.  

In a radio interview, George Buck asked me why the Hot Jazz and
Alligator Gumbo Society, which I co-founded, didn't have a Preacher
Rollo Day and invite his then living sidemen to come honor him. I had to
tell George that, in my opinion, the only event for Rollo that would
draw that crowd would be his funeral, and they'd come to that just to
make sure.


Will Connelly