Sunday, February 8, 2015

Chick Webb

William Henry Webb
February 10, 1905 – June 16, 1939

         Chick Webb was a drummer, bandleader and a hunchback dwarf who from childhood had suffered from tuberculosis of the spine.  The idea of playing an instrument was suggested by his doctor to "loosen up" his bones. As a teenager Webb played on pleasure boats. He freelanced in New York starting about 1925 by 1926 he led his own combo. Late 1920s he increased the size of the band to play key New York spots, Savoy, Rose Danceland, Strand Roof, Roseland and The Cotton Club.  In 1931, his band became the house band at the Savoy Ballroom. Savoy often featured "Battle of the Bands" where Webb's band would compete with other top bands such as the Benny Goodman Orchestra or the Count Basie Orchestra. Although he was unable to read music he committed to memory the arrangements played by the band. 
      An important influence in the band was saxman-arranger Edgar Sampson. Ella Fitzgerald joined the band in 1935 and achieved quick prominence with jazz styled vocals. Big hit in 1938 with A-Tisket A-Tasket.   A quintet within the band was called Little Chicks and featured Wayman Carver, jazz flutist. In 1939 Chick Webb died shortly after an operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.  After Webb's death, Ella Fitzgerald led the group until 1942, when she disbanded for career as single.  No one knew Webb's true birth date from before the time of his death in 1939 until September 2005 when filmmaker Eric Bruno Borgman discovered the correct year. February 10, 2015 is the 110th anniversary of his birth.  Gene Krupa regarded Chick as his greatest inspiration and changed his style of drumming to emulate Webb's. He is buried at Arbutus Memorial Park in Arbutus, Baltimore Co., Maryland.

A-Tisket A Tasket   1938

Let's Get Together   Theme

Dog Bottom The Jungle Band

Midnight In A Madhouse   1937

Blues In My Heart   1931

Chick Webb Playlist

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