chitlin' circuit (Dec. 1966)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 18 14:53:34 UTC 2014

On Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 12:43 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> On Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 1:34 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> > This isn't exactly what Lou Rawls was talking
> > about in the '60s, but it's a significant predecessor.
> I know what Rawls was talking about. Saint Louis was a major stop on that
> circuit. Did y'all know that Ray Charles, among his other talents, could
> also play the saxophone? I saw him do it at the old Club Riviera, back in
> '55. He also played something called an "electric piano." a term and an
> instrument that was new to me. A casual Googling traces the term and the
> instrument back to ca. 1909: "... the International Electric Piano Company,
> a corporation having its office in the city of St. Louis ..."

I know he had a Wurlitzer -- that's what makes "What'd I Say" sound so
great, right?

> Youneverknow.
> The question is, what was Sachs talking about? Just the South in general?

That would be my guess. It would probably require more investigation
to find out what types of clubs that magicians were playing on the
Southern vaudeville circuit at the time. But it's notable that Sachs
used it both times to refer to Mal and Maxine Lippincott, and that it
showed up in the magicians' magazine Tops around the same time also
about the Lippincotts. So it seems like it was their term.

According to this forum post, Malcom Lippincott made his home in
Louisville, KY c. 1949:

And this (his mother's obit) says he resided in Corinth, KY in 1930:


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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