Book Excerpt: Count Basie: Swingin' The Blues 1936 - 1950

Author: Ken Veil
Pages: 59, 62
Copyright 2003
Scarecrow Press
ISBN 0810848821

(Down Beat June 1942)

New York - Just mention Millburo, Delaware, to Count Basie, and he will give you a fast brush. Seems that while the band was setting up for a date there, recently, Freddie Green, Buster Scott, and Dickie Wells went lobster potting. They returned, putting their catch in a bucket behind the piano.

Half an hour later, Basie noticed Jimmy Rushing eying his shoes with interest. Of course, one of the real big lobsters was lying on Count's shoe, twitching his eyes in a most ickie fashion, off-the-beat. Count immediately did a fast kicking act which landed the lobster in tenor saxman Buddy Tate's lap. This broke the sax section up for a good fifteen minutes.

When order was finally restored, Count discovered the exertion had busted his suspenders. When half an hour later the lobster got loose again, Basie had to retreat across the platform, shooing with one hand, and grabbing his pants with the other. Only Freddie Green's quick interception prevented the lobster,a thorough square, from making a flank attack.

Next night at the Strand in Philly, all the lights went off unexpectedly, leaving the band in total darkness for half an hour with a very uneasy crowd. One of the guys in the band yelled, "There's a lobster loose!" Count didn't appreciate the humor.


At the end of August 1942, saxman Caughey Roberts is drafted and Walter Page leaves the band. They are both missing when the band returns to Columbia Studios in September to film their sequence for "Reveille With Beverly." By this time, Marvin Johnson is on alto sax and Vernon Alley has joined on bass. Freddie Green is also missing on screen, having been caught without his draft card, and road manager Snodgrass fakes it on guitar.


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