Cab Calloway

December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994

Cabell “Cab” Calloway III was one of the most prominent jazz bandleaders of the swing era of the 1930s and ’40s. He was most closely associated with the famed Cotton Club in Harlem where he and his band started by filling in for Duke Ellington when Ellington was on tour. Cab grew up in Baltimore and often found himself in trouble for playing dice or skipping school. Eventually, he found a more positive outlet for his energies: singing. Despite his mother’s protests (she wanted him to be a lawyer like his father) Cab continued to pursue music. He met and worked with greats like Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie and moved to New York City. After a stint at the Savoy, his band broke up and he joined The Missourians and jumped to the Cotton Club.

The Missourians became “Cab Calloway and his Orchestra” and they eventually earned a permanent residency at the legendary club. Calloway himself became a star. His biggest hit would be his 1931 recording of “Minnie the Moocher” and he would become indelibly linked to the song’s “Hi De Ho” refrain. The record sold over a million copies, which was a first amongst African American musicians. The Hi-De-Ho Man would go on to great success for decades in music and on the silver screen. Calloway appeared in more than a dozen films, including famously in 1980’s The Blues Brothers…which caused a resurgence in his popularity with a whole new generation. In pop-culture at large, Calloway contributed heavily to the popularization of “hep” jive speak and his style and performances influenced countless artists including many of the pioneers of the Hip-Hop genre.

Calloway suffered a stroke in 1994 and passed away five months later. The 86 year-old icon left behind a legacy matched by few others.

Burial

Ferncliff Cemetery – Hartsdale, NY

Specific Location

Rosewood Mausoleum, Unit 6, Tier BBB, C252; 3rd floor, from the top of the main staircase, turn left (southwest), Cab is buried along the right side about halfway down the corridor, two rows up from the floor.

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