Born: Bulee Gaillard, January 4, 1916, Detroit, Michigan - Died
February 26, 1991 - England
sources including Gaillard himself have claimed he was born on 1 January
1916 in Santa Clara, Cuba. Gaillard led an adventurous childhood. On one
occasion, while traveling on board a ship on which his father was steward,
he was left behind in Crete when the ship sailed. His adventures became
more exciting every time he recounted his tales and include activities
such as professional boxer, mortician and truck driver for bootleggers.
Originally based in Detroit, Gaillard entered vaudeville in the early 30s
with an act during which he played the guitar while tap-dancing. Later
in the decade he moved to New York and formed a duo with bassist Slam Stewart
in which Gaillard mostly played guitar and sang. Much of their repertoire
was original material with lyrics conceived in Gaillard's personal version
of the currently popular 'jive talk', which on his lips developed extraordinary
surrealist overtones. Gaillard's language, which he named 'Vout' or 'Vout
Oreenie', helped the duo achieve a number of hit records, including
'Flat Foot Floogie'. Their success led to a long running radio series and
an appearance in the film Hellzapoppin. In 1943 Stewart was inducted for
military service and was replaced by Bam Brown. Now based in Los Angeles,
Gaillard continued to write songs, often in collaboration with Brown, and
had another big hit with 'Cement Mixer (Put-ti Put-ti)'. With Brown he
co-authored a remarkable extended work, 'Opera in Vout', which premiered
in Los Angeles in 1946. (In fact, it was not an opera and not much of it
was in vout!) Another huge hit was 'Down By The Station', a song which,
uniquely for a jazz artist, entered the catalogue of classic children's
nursery rhymes. Contrastingly, he also recorded with bebop musicians, including
Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie ( Slim's Jam ). In the late 40s he continued
his eccentric entertaining, which included such intriguing routines as
playing piano with his hands upside-down. Not surprisingly, given his manner
of performance and his private language, some people never quite understood
Gaillard and one radio station banned his record 'Yep Roc Heresy', declaring
it to be degenerate; in fact, the lyric was merely a recitation of the
menu from an Armenian restaurant. In the late 50s and for several years
thereafter, Gaillard worked mostly outside music but gradually returned
to prominence by way of acting roles, (including a part in the USA television
series Roots), festival appearances with Stewart and, in the 80s, numerous
television and stage shows in the UK where he became resident in 1983.
His tall, loping figure, invariably topped by a big grin and a rakish white
beret, became a familiar sight in London's jazz-land. In 1989 he starred
in a four-part UK BBC television series, The World Of Slim Gaillard. In
addition to his singing and guitar playing, Gaillard also played piano,
vibraphone and tenor saxophone.
of Popular Music Copyright Muze UK Ltd. '89 - '98
I just heard from my son Jim
Voydat that you are looking for personal information about Slim
Gaillard, also known to his friends as "Flako Del Gado Gailluardo". You
have to say this with the proper accent, or you might suffer station
Slim and I worked together
from 1965 to 1972. My stage name at that time was Marian Vee. I have
lots of stills if you have need of them, and stories "galore", as well
as an autographed copy of one of Slims original records: "Chicken
I am presently writing a book
that contains many of the stories of Slim, how we met, how we started
working together, how he became my mentor, how he taught me to "read an
audience", and how to become more street wise, instead of being a "hick
from the hills"!
Slim used to sing a song
called "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere", usually only by request from fans
who had heard him sing it before. It was a serious song, and many times,
tears would flow from his eyes when he sang it. When I first heard the
lyrics, I thought he was singing about an old flame, (of which he had
many). They didn't call him "Dark Clark" for nothing! It wasn't until
many years after we had stopped working together that I was singing this
song in the shower, and I realized that this song was a prayer, and that
it had come to Slim, directly from Spirit.
ANYTIME, ANYPLACE, ANYWHERE,
SAY THE WORD, YOU'LL BE
I'LL BE THERE.
MAKES NO DIFFERENCE IF YOU
I'LL COME RUNNING IF YOU NEED
ANYTIME, ANYPLACE, ANYWHERE.
Perry Como recorded this
song, way back when.
Slim and I stayed in contact
right up until his death in the early 1990's. He was a close member of
our family. My children's pet name for him was "Slimmer". There were
many occasions when Slim would show up, unannounced, take over my
kitchen, and cook us up some of his favorite Cuban dishes. We cooked
together, and wrote "Chicken Noodle Soup", in that same kitchen.
I could go on and on, but
perhaps you would like to talk with me if that's possible. I have some
wonderful Mafia Stories, as well as Jimmy Lyons setting up Slim, Slam,
Milt Buckner, on Jazz Organ Joe Jones, on Drums and myself on Vocals,
and Congas at the Monterey Jazz Festival in the early 70's. Slim got the
flu, the day before we were scheduled to appear, and my M.D. husband
rushed him to the Monterey Hospital, filled him full of Penicillin, and
got him ready to perform. It was touch and go, but old Slim came
through. That was a wild performance that featured not only the old
material Slim and Slam did together, but a lot of new material Slim and
I wrote in the van on our way from Northern California to Monterey. We
took a chance, and performed this material before we had it copy-writed.
I would be honored to share
my stories about one of the most important men in my life.
-Mariah Adams aka Marian Vee
|A Personal MacVouty Memory
- Jim Calvagna
How delightful for me to discover a kindred spirit.
I agree, Vic and Sade
was the funniest show ever on radio, and makes today's sit coms pale in
As to Slim what can I say. It was back in 1952 I was taking a date to
Birdland. Usually when I went there I sat in the bleachers over by the bar
where there were no tables etc. (i.e. the low rent district ) which Slim
affectionately called Wino Junction. Since I had a date, I had to show off
and sit at one of the tables on the expensive side (there was a $3.00
minimum per person). As we came in Slim was playing, when he spotted us he
played the first few notes of "Here comes the bride'" and nodded his head
yes. I shook my head no. This was repeated several
times. When the tune finished, Slim announced:
" We would like to dedicate this next number to our
newlyweds here spending their honeymoon at Birdland. What a drag! If that
was me I'd go somewhere and lock the vouty and throw the reeney away."
A few years later we were married, we still are, but we will always remember
A few days later I was walking up Broadway and here came Slim the other way.
As he neared me I said:
"Mac Vouty!!" Without missing a beat he
"O rissimo reeny!"
has brought back wonderful memories. Keep up the good work.
A Personal Memory
In 1967 I was a
television dirctor and was general manager a
television station, KGSC-TV in
San Jose, California. Being an ex-big
band musician, I had heard a lot about Slim
Gaillard. One day, Slim appeared at the station
and we met. Slim wanted to produce a special
musical show using music he had already written
or would write. He had great ideas and the show
could have been a raal winner. Our
pre-production sessions went on over a period of
two or three months.
In development and early
rehearsals Slim brought in two young ladies who
were to be featured dancers on the program. Both
were very attactive and both also worked as hair
dressers at a salon in San Mateo. Slim laid out
a format for the program and we were all set,
following initial rehearsals, to videotape the
first program. Unfortunately, one of the young
dancers was killed in a very bizaare murder
that, to the best of my knowledge, is still
Slim took the murder very
personally and deeply and did not recover from
that tragedy. The show was cancelled before it
got off the ground,
Shortly afterward, on a
weekly program about psychics that was produced
by the station, one well-known psychic devined
about the murder. The psychic, going into a
trance during videotaping of the program, named
the murderer and described the murder itself.
The San Mateo sheriffs
department heard about the program and
confiscated the videotape before the program
I never saw Slim after
that. But it was a real pleasure working with
him and his production ideas were great. Sorry
it had to end so abruptly.
My association with Slim was 40 years ago. There
were no stories that he related that I can
remember. But Slim impressed me with the fact
that he didn't talk about himself. He was always
laid back and enjoyable to talk to, either in
person or by phone.
On one or two occasions we would roll a piano
into the television
studio. Slim and I would sit there singing songs - foremost that I can
recall was "Cement Mixer".
Slim impressed me as being a gentleman. We
laughed a lot and once I poked fun at him about
that song, "Cement Mixer". I think he told me
where he got the idea but I really can't
remember, it was a so long ago.
I do remember another incident, much earlier,
right after World War II. I was stationed at Ft.
Texas with the 62nd AGF Band. One of our
guys returned from a home furlough in
Los Angeles and told us about
visiting Billy Berg's on Vine Street when Slim
Gaillard was playing there.
Slim's band took a break, then at the end of the
break, one of the
musicians wandered back to the band stand and began to play, solo. A
or so later, another musician wandered to the bandstand aand joined in.
This went on until all were on the stand, playing. At that point, Slim
wandered up. All in all it took at least five minutes for the entire band
to return to the bandstand.
That was the first I really heard about Slim.
Later I found a 78 rpm record of Slim and the
band that gave me chuckles. On the first side,
Slim introduced the record by saying "Me and the
boys would like to play a
little tune for you, titled "The Groove Juice Special". On the flip side,
Slim introduced the other side of the rpm by
saying exactly the same thing, "Me and the boys
would like to play another song for you
titled The Groove Juice Special", like the first side had never happened.
That always broke me up and from that I became a
fan of Slims. Later, as I said in the first
email, I met and got to know Slim - probably as
much as most other people would get to know
Our time together was really enjoyable because
he was so easy to get along with. I was sorry to
have it end the way it did. He took the murder
very hard and just left town. I have no idea
where he went after that.
Wish I could help you more. If I can remember
anything I'll let you know.
By the way, I'm still a working musician in the
southeast, working out of
Atlanta - big band and jazz trumpet. One
of our jazz groups still plays Slim's "C Jam
Blues" as am intro number on gigs and I often
about the guy. What a unique talent he had.I feel honored to have known
him and worked with him for the short while.
cult hero, Slim Gaillard was a frequently hilarious personality whose
comedy (inventing his own jive language with a liberal use of the words
"vout" and "oreenee") generally overshadowed his
music. In the mid-'30s he had a solo act during which he played guitar
while tap dancing! In 1936 Gaillard began teaming with bassist Slam
Stewart as Slim and Slam. Their very first recording became his biggest
hit, "Flat Foot Floogie." Slim and Slam were a popular
attraction up to 1942 with such other songs as "Tutti Frutti"
and "Laughin' in Rhythm." By 1945 Gaillard had a new bassist,
Bam Brown (whose frantic vocals matched well with Slim's cool if
nonsensical voice), and "Cement Mixer" and "Poppity
Pop" caught on. Gaillard, who played electric guitar influenced by
Charlie Christian, fairly basic boogie-woogie piano and vibes, led an
unusual date with guests Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie (1945) that
was highlighted by "Slim's Jam." Throughout the 1940s in Los
Angeles, Gaillard had a strong following, using such sidemen as Zutty
Singleton and Dodo Marmarosa, but the popularity of jive singers (which
included Harry "The Hipster" Gibson and Leo Watson) ran its
course and after 1953 Gaillard only led two other record sessions (in 1958
and 1982). In the 1960s he was largely outside of music, running a motel
in San Diego, but by the late '70s Slim Gaillard was back on a
part-time basis, still singing "Flat Foot Floogie" and making
one wonder why this comic whiz was neglected for nearly three decades.
the most eccentric vocalists ever to hit the jazz scene, Slim
Gaillard became a legendary cult figure thanks to his own privately
invented jive dialect “vout," a variation on hipster slang composed
of imaginary nonsense words (“oreenie" and “oroonie" being two other
examples). Gaillard's comic performances, laid-back cool, and
supremely silly songs made him a popular entertainer from the late
‘30s to the early ‘50s, especially on the West Coast, and several of
his compositions became genuine hits, including "Flat Foot Floogie"
and "Cement Mixer." Versatility was not Gaillard's stock in trade,
but he was highly effective at what he did, and his musical ability
as a singer, Charlie Christian-style guitarist, and boogie-woogie
pianist was perhaps a bit overlooked in comparison to the novelty
value of his music.
Slim was born Bulee Gaillard, most likely on January 4, 1916 in
Detroit, MI.; some sources list his birthdate as January 1, and
Gaillard sometimes claimed to have been born in Santa Clara, Cuba
instead of Detroit. His father worked as a steward on a cruise
liner, and sometimes brought young Slim along, once accidentally
leaving him behind on the island of Crete. Gaillard was mostly
raised in Detroit, though, where he tried his hand at professional
boxing, worked as a mortician, and ran bootleg rum for the Purple
Gang during the ‘30s. He also developed an act in which he played
guitar and tap danced simultaneously, and eventually moved to New
York to work the vaudeville circuit. In 1936, he teamed up with
bassist Slam Stewart as Slim & Slam, and two years later they scored
a substantial hit with "Flat Foot Floogie," which was quickly
covered by the likes of Benny Goodman and Fats Waller in the wake of
the original recording's success. Gaillard and Stewart kept cutting
songs in a similar vein, including "Tutti Frutti" and "Laughin' in
Rhythm," and eventually took their act to Hollywood, where they
appeared in the 1941 film Hellzapoppin. Their partnership continued
on through 1942, when World War II interrupted; both served in the
military, Gaillard in the Air Force.
Upon exiting the service in 1944, Gaillard settled in Los Angeles
and took up residency at Billy Berg's Hollywood Boulevard club, a
hot spot for stars of the era. Now in tandem with bassist Bam Brown,
Gaillard became a top draw and a hip name to drop; his 1945 hit
"Cement Mixer" returned him to national prominence, and he recorded
frequently that year, often with a quartet featuring Brown, pianist
Dodo Marmarosa, and drummer Zutty Singleton. He also cut a session
with bop greats Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in late 1945, the
most notable result of which was "Slim's
Jam." The latter half of the ‘40s saw Gaillard's popularity at
its peak; he appeared in several films and recorded for Verve up
through 1951. He had further hits with 1948's "Down by the Station,"
which became a popular children's nursery rhyme, and 1951's "Yep Roc
Heresay," a recitation of the menu from a Middle Eastern restaurant
that one radio station banned for its "suggestiveness." He performed
in New York frequently from 1951-53, and also participated in Norman
Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic in 1953; a few years later, he was
Jack Kerouac's On the Road.
By the mid-‘50s, Gaillard's popularity was on the wane. He spent
much of the latter part of the decade on the road with Stan Kenton,
and recorded for Dot in 1958. He took a hiatus from music in the
‘60s; he managed a motel in San Diego for a time, and bought an
orchard near Tacoma, Washington. He also played clubs and spent time
in Los Angeles, where he drifted into acting toward the end of the
decade, appearing on TV shows like Marcus Welby, M.D., Charlie's
Angels, Mission Impossible, Medical Center, and Along Came Bronson.
He reunited with Slam Stewart at the 1970 Monterey Jazz Festival,
and in 1979 he appeared in the miniseries Roots: The Next
Generation. In 1982, Dizzy Gillespie talked Gaillard into returning
to music. He traveled to the U.K. and made his first recordings
since 1958 for Hep, which issued them as the album Anytime,
Anyplace, Anywhere; he also hit the festival circuit and toured
Europe extensively, making London his new home base in 1983. He
appeared in the cult film Absolute Beginners in 1986, and was the
subject of a multi-part BBC special called The World of Slim
Gaillard in 1989. Gaillard passed away on February 26, 1991 after a
bout with cancer. — Steve Huey
high school girl during that time, my girlfriend and I, along
with every other teenager in San Diego, rushed home to turn on
and get our requests in, to Slim Gaillard's stint as a D.J.
doing requests. He got so acquainted with some of us, he could
call us by name, remembering some of our earlier requests and
asking what happened to ...... We loved him! I am 73 now, and
his music and that request show are an integral part of some of
my fondest memories. We got the great feeling that we knew him
Terri Adams (now of Beijing, China)
|The other day I saw a cement mixer
--- and you probably can guess the rest. What I wanted to tell
you, if you are doing any research on Slim, is that back in the
mid-1970s he was in Tacoma and the union called a few of us to
come and jam with him because one of the educational TV stations
wanted to do an interview with him, get some of his music on
videotape or whatever they used back then.
I am sorry I can't be much help beyond that. I think it was a
locally well-known musician, Wayne Simon, who got us together,
but Wayne is long gone. I have to admit that I had barely heard
of Slim at that time, so playing "Cement Mixer" and "Flat Foot
Floogie" and whatever else we did was kind of a just-hang-on
But someone around Tacoma might have that old tape or film
somewhere. I think it was one of the community colleges that did
it. I'm pretty sure it was not the two bigger schools, PLU or
Guess that's all. Good luck, and thanks for the info on your
Lakeview OR - 08/08/09
When I was in high
school some of my friends and I would take our dates to Billy
Berg's Supper Club on Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard.
Although we were all under age the management never turned us
down when we ordered Singapore Slings and Frozen Daiquiris. We
were dressed well, wearing ties and jackets and we behaved like
adults. Among those appearing at Billy Berg's in addition to
Slim were Harry the Hipster Gibson and Frankie Laine. Slim
Gaillard's "Cement Mixer" became our theme song. We never tired
of imitating Slim and improvising on the melody. Voutoroonie
became part of our vocabulary. In addition to being there in
person I would often listen to the midnight radio broadcast that
emanated from the club. Slim was a delightful entertainer who
gave us many pleasurable hours of mirth and music. It was nice
to revive these memories on your site. Thank you.
-Paul Wood 2-21-10
early fifties my girlfriend and I would travel to nyc from
Flatbush and hit
downbeat and a couple of times the latin quarter. We loved slim
and saw him at both the downbeat and birdland. I still say
mcvouty and I will be 78 in October. Those were the days when
young girls could travel on the subways unescorted. I have
slim’s autograph along with George Shearing’s on the same
birdland cover charge card when they were both appearing there.
Fond memories for sure,