- NAME: Cab Calloway
- OCCUPATION: Singer
- BIRTH DATE: December 25, 1907
- DEATH DATE: November 18, 1994
- Did You Know?: In the early 1930s, Cab Calloway's onstage moves were captured by animators who put him in several Betty Boop cartoons, including one called Minnie the Moocher.
- EDUCATION: Crane College (now Malcolm X College)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Rochester, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: Hockessin, Delaware
- Full Name: Cabell Calloway III
- AKA: Cabell Calloway
- AKA: Cab Calloway
- Nickname: King of Hi-De-Ho
- Nickname: Hi-De-Ho Man
Best Known For
Singer Cab Calloway became a star with his performances at the Cotton Club and his song "Minnie the Moocher" (1931). He also appeared on stage and in films.
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Singer and bandleader Cab Calloway was born in Rochester, New York, in 1907. He learned the art of scat singing before landing a regular gig at Harlem's famous Cotton Club. Following the enormous success of his song "Minnie the Moocher" (1931), Calloway became one of the most popular entertainers of the 1930s and '40s. He appeared on stage and in films before his death in 1994, at age 86, in Hockessin, Delaware.
"I forgot a lyric, and put in the 'hi-de-ho' phrase to cover it. I put it in out of nowhere. That hi-de-ho just came out of the clouds, and it was something that hit."
"Women, horses, cars and clothes, I did it all. And do you know what that's called, ladies and gentlemen? It's called living."
"I'm a legend. You can't be in show business for 60 years and not be a legend."
Born Cabell Calloway III on December 25, 1907, in Rochester, New York, Cab Calloway's charm and vibrancy helped him become a noted singer and bandleader. He grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where he first started singing, and where his lifelong love of visiting racetracks took hold. A move to Chicago, Illinois, saw Calloway begin to study law at Crane College (now Malcolm X College), but his focus always remained on music.
While performing at Chicago's Sunset Club, Calloway met Louis Armstrong, who tutored him in the art of scat singing (using nonsensical sounds to improvise melodies). In 1928, Calloway took over the leadership of his own band, the Alabamians. Ready for the next step in his career, he headed to New York the following year.
In 1930, Calloway got a gig at Harlem's famed Cotton Club. Soon, as the bandleader of Cab Calloway and his Orchestra, he became a regular performer at the popular nightspot. Calloway hit the big time with "Minnie the Moocher" (1931), a No. 1 song that sold more than one million copies. The tune's famous call-and-response "hi-de-hi-de-ho" chorus—improvised when he couldn't recall a lyric—became Calloway's signature phrase for the rest of his career.
With other hits that included "Moon Glow" (1934), "The Jumpin' Jive" (1939) and "Blues in the Night" (1941), as well as appearances on radio, Calloway was one of the most successful performers of the era. During the 1930s and 1940s, he appeared in such films as The Big Broadcast (1932), The Singing Kid (1936) and Stormy Weather (1943). In addition to music, Calloway influenced the public with books such as 1944's The New Cab Calloway's Hepster's Dictionary: Language of Jive, which offered definitions for terms like "in the groove" and "zoot suit."
Calloway and his orchestra had successful tours in Canada, Europe and across the United States, traveling in private train cars when they visited the South in order to escape some of the hardships of segregation. With his enticing voice, energetic onstage moves and dapper white tuxedos, Calloway was the star attraction. However, the group's musical talent was just as impressive, partly because the salaries Calloway offered were second only to Duke Ellington's. The standout musicians Calloway performed with include saxophonist Chu Berry, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and drummer Cozy Cole.
In 1948, as the public had stopped flocking to big bands, Calloway switched to working with a six-member group. Beginning in 1952, he spent two years in the cast of a revival of the musical Porgy and Bess.
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