Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Duke Ellington’s birthday

Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29, 1899. From the (anti-)autobiography Music Is My Mistress (New York: Doubleday, 1973):

“Duke” is not the only nickname I’ve had or enjoyed. Because I was such a good second-baseman, I was nicknamed “Otto” after the great Otto Williams. That was just the first of a long string of sobriquets — “Cutey,” “Stinkpot,” “Duke,” “the Phoney Duke” … Doc Perry called me “Wucker,” and Sonny Greer, who brought me to New York and told me not to look at the high buildings, called me “The Kid.” Juan Tizol’s wife called me “Apple Dumpling.” Johnny Hodges’ wife called me “Dumpy,” and Cootie still calls me “Dump.” It was Louis Bellson who started calling me “Maestro.” Cress Courtney called me “Pops,” and my son, Mercer, calls me “Pop” and “Fathoo.” Sam Woodyard called me “Big Red,” Chuck Connors called me “Piano Red,” and Ben Webster used to tell people to “See the ‘Head Knocker.’” Haywood Jones, of the dance team of Ford, Marshall, and Jones, calls me “Puddin’.” Richard Bowden Jones, my man, my real man, called me “Governor” at the beginning of the Cotton Club days. Herb Jeffries cut it short to “Govey.” And a lot of friends and relations in Washington, D.C., still call me “Elnm’t’n”!
WKCR is playing Ellington all day.

Related reading
All OCA Ellington posts (Pinboard)

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