Sunday, December 21, 2008
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Spade Cooley
Song:Shame On You
Album:Spadella: The Essential Spade Cooley
Bob Wills may have invented the mix of country music and jazz known as Western Swing but for a couple of years in the 40s, Donell "Spade" Cooley was known as The King Of Western Swing. Shame On You was a #1 hit in 1945 and his signature song. Cooley would fade and later become notorious for murdering his wife. He was born Dec. 17, 1910 in Grand, OK. He came from a family of violinists and was playing professionally at eight years old with his father at square dances. The Spade nickname was because of his poker playing skills. Cooley moved to Los Angeles in 1930 and by the mid 30s he was acting in Republic Pictures westerns and was Roy Rogers' stand in. He also toured with Rogers and the Riders Of The Purple Sage. Cooley won a battle of the bands over Bob Wills at the Santa Monica Pier in the early 40s and dubbed himself King Of Western Swing. But Wills' music is much more diverse and based on country music traditions wheras Cooley's music is more mainstream. That's why Wills' music is more memorable today. But the turning point came when he added Jack "Tex" Williams (born Aug. 23, 1917 in Ramsey, IL.) as lead vocalist. This earned him a contract at Columbia's Okeh label and Shame On You was the first single. It was #1 on the country charts for nine weeks and was followed by a string of hits. The success of the group is probably what killed it. Cooley married backup singer Ella Mae Evans. Williams was the singer on all of Cooley's hits. He wanted more money or he would leave. Williams took a lot of the band and formed the Western Caravans in 1947. Cooley had a very popular TV show in Los Angeles for ten years. He continued to record in the 50s but public taste changed and he faded from view. Spade Cooley was an alcoholic and suffered a series of heart attacks. He also lost a lot of money on a proposed theme park in the Mojave Desert. Ella Mae left him in 1961 and during an argument on Apr. 3, he stomped her to death in front of their 14 year old daughter. Cooley was sentenced to life in prison and after performing at a sherriff's benefit show on Nov. 23, 1969, he died of a heart attack at age 58. This comp covers all his Okeh recordings. Dennis Quaid has written a biopic about Spade Cooley called Shame On You and plans to star & direct but there has been no news on the film since 2005 so it appears to be on hold. Here's a 1945 Warner Bros. short film called Spade Cooley: The King Of Western Swing.