[Dixielandjazz] Jack Teagarden

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 19 12:55:44 PST 2007

Here's a story or three about Jack Teagarden. From Barney Bigard's
Autobiography. If you like these, then for more reminisces from other
players, about this great trombonist, see:


Steve Barbone


"The funny thing was that Jack always drank whiskey. Straight whiskey. So
he always kept a pint in his trombone case to take a nip during
intermission. Anyway, Arvell Shaw found out that he had that bottle in
there and he was too cheap to buy his own whiskey, so every night, just
when we would be in the wings about to go on stage, Arvell would run back
right quick and take a big gulp. Same thing after intermission was over
too. Jack couldn¹t figure it out. At the end of every concert the bottle
would be almost empty. He would say, "God! This bottle¹s almost gone.
Someone must be stealing my whiskey." Of course we didn¹t say nothing, even
though we knew who was laying into that bottle. One night Jack got smart,
so before the show he half emptied the pint of whiskey and took a leak into
it. He just put it back in the trombone case and carried on as usual. So
Arvell took a drink from it and came out on the stand all mad. "Somebody
done peed in the bottle," he yelled, right out there on the concert stage.
He was mad with everyone in the band, and yet he was the one stealing the
whiskey. He never stole any more, because he didn¹t know what in hell would
be in that bottle."


"The girls all used to flock around Jack. He had that sort of personality
where they would want to "mother" him; to take care of him. They all
thought they were on to something big when he would ask them to come up to
see the steam engines in his hotel room after the show. Those poor chicks
would just sit on the bed waiting for something to happen, while Jack laid
out on the floor blowing the whistles and making the engines work."


"Jack was the only white guy in the band and when we went down South he
couldn¹t stay in the same hotel with us. We went to Norfolk, Virginia, one
time and Jack used to love red beans and rice, so he had to walk all over
town all by himself to find some of those beans. Apart from the separate
hotels we never had any trouble in the South, and we played all over:
Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi. I heard once that in some book they say
that Louis wouldn¹t play New Orleans on account of the racial situation
there with a mixed band. Well we played New Orleans in 1949, I think, and
we had no trouble. We never played any night clubs, just a concert and a
couple of pre-carnival balls. In fact they crowned Louis as "King of the
Zulus" which is like making him King for the Mardi Gras period. See, Gene
Krupa had broken down a lot of that colour shit in the South before we got
there. He went to Texas to play a fair or something, and the folks gave him
static about the coloured guys in his band. Gene told Œem, "Well! If they
don¹t play. I don¹t play." That was that. They all played."

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