use of "sunshine" as a racial slur against blacks

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Mar 4 01:40:53 UTC 2009

After I sent this message I recalled (I think correctly) that Laine had said something to the effect that he wanted to sing like Louis played the trumpet.  So maybe it's not surprising that Laine covered an Armstrong hit.

I also think that I recall that Shine was one of the numbers Armstrong sang when he was in London, and the king attended one of his shows.  This would have been the occasion when Armstrong (so it's said) acknowledged the king's presence by saluting the royal box, and saying This one's for you, Rex -- and then playing I'll be glad when you're dead, you rascal you.  Which was his most recent hit record.  A good story, and I'm going to believe it, even if it isn't true; but I hope that it is.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: George Thompson <george.thompson at>
Date: Monday, March 2, 2009 9:59 pm
Subject: Re: use of "sunshine" as a racial slur against blacks

> Frankie Laine recorded this?  Wow.
> The version I know is by Louis Armstrong, ca. 1930.

The American Dialect Society -

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