Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

COOLEY, Spade

(b Donnell Clyde Cooley, 17 Dec. '10, Pack Saddle Creek OK; d Nov. '69, Oakland CA) Singer, fiddler, leader; nickname from playing cards. Played with bands at Venice Pier Ballroom (Venice CA), started own band and opened Santa Monica ballroom, keeping it filled during WWII when many ballrooms were losing money because of petrol rationing. No. 1 record on hillbilly chart (as it was then called) with 'Shame On You' '45. Popular radio show; had 25- piece band with Tex Williams as vocalist, not recorded in studio at its peak because of musicians' union's strike; made western films, had show on first commercial TV station in LA '47. Western swing genre began to fail; Cooley still a popular act, but drank heavily, had heart attacks; killed estranged second wife in July '61 and sentenced to life; allowed out to play benefit concert, had final heart attack. Club of Spade label made available eight albums incl. volumes of Best Of radio transcriptions, Mr Music Himself, Spade Cooley And Tex Williams; there was also Swinging The Devil's Dream on Charly UK; The Essential '44--6 on Columbia CD USA.