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Cab Calloway
Cab CallowayCab Calloway 2

Cabell "Cab" Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was a jazz singer and bandleader. He was strongly associated with the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, where he was a regular performer.

Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States' most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s through to the late 1940s. Calloway's band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon "Chu" Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton. Calloway continued to perform until his death in 1994 at the age of 86.


Cab Calloway -- the legendary "Hi De Ho" man -- was a energetic showman, gifted singer, talented actor and trendsetting fashion plate. A truly "larger than life" figure in American pop culture, immortalized in cartoons and caricatures, Calloway also led one of the greatest bands of the Swing Era.

In 1930, he was hired to replace Duke Ellington at the exclusive Cotton Club in Harlem. His most famous song, Minnie the Moocher, was written in 1931 and sold over 1,000,000 copies. He was also known for the tunes Are You Hip To That Jive and Hi-De-Ho Man. His career including singing, songwriting, band leader and actor.

The band broke up in the 1940's when bad financial decisions (gambling problems) caught up with Cab. He would go on to appear on Broadway including an all-black Hello Dolly. In 1980, a new generation was introduced to 73-year-old Cab by way of the film The Blues Brothers.


In the 1950s Calloway moved his family from Long Island, New York in order to raise the three youngest of his five daughters in Greenburgh, New York. In his later career Calloway appeared in a number of films and stage productions that used both his acting and singing talents. In 1952 he played the prominent role of "Sportin' Life" in a production of the Gershwin opera, Porgy and Bess, with William Warfield and Leontyne Price as the title characters. Another notable role was "Yeller" in The Cincinnati Kid (1965), with Steve McQueen, Ann-Margret, and Edward G. Robinson.

Calloway appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on March 19, 1967 with Chris Calloway. In 1967, Calloway co-starred opposite Pearl Bailey as Horace Vandergelder in an all-black cast change of Hello, Dolly! on Broadway during its original run. It revived the flagging business for the show and RCA released a new cast recording, rare for the time. In 1973–1974, Calloway was featured in an unsuccessful Broadway revival of The Pajama Game alongside Hal Linden and Barbara McNair.

1976 saw the release of his autobiography, Of Minnie the Moocher and Me (Crowell). It included his complete Hepsters Dictionary as an appendix.

Calloway attracted renewed interest in 1980 when he appeared as a supporting character in the film The Blues Brothers, performing "Minnie the Moocher", and again when he sang "The Jumpin' Jive" with the Two-Headed Monster on Sesame Street. This also was the year the cult movie Forbidden Zone was released, which included rearrangements of, and homages to, Calloway songs written by Calloway fan Danny Elfman, performed by Elfman and his band, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo.

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