[Ads-l] The truth about _boogie-joogie_

Margaret Lee 0000006730deb3bf-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Thu Dec 21 07:02:44 EST 2017

 Hi Wilson,
Interesting to learn about "Spider's" music career and the fact that he was a fellow-Hamptonion.

Happy Holidays,Margaret
On ‎Wednesday‎, ‎December‎ ‎20‎, ‎2017‎ ‎11‎:‎02‎:‎06‎ ‎PM‎ ‎EST, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:  
 According to HDAS, _boogie-joogie_ dates from 1957 - cited from _Corner
Boy_, a novel by fellow-St. Louisan and fraternity-brother Herbert Simmons
- and is a BE alt-term for _boogie-woogie_. There is a further cite, with a
different meaning, from 1974, about which I have no comment. According to
Green's, in addition to the cite from Simmons, defined as "boogie-Woogie
music," there is also another cite from 1957, the title of an instrumental
recording by another fellow-St. Louisan, the R&B saxophonist, Talmadge
"Tab" Smith. Green's also supplies the 1974 cite.

Jesse Dillon "Spider" Burk/Burke/Burks - a native of The Lou who was a
graduate of Virginia's Hampton Institute, BTW, Margaret - was the first
black DJ in Saint Louis, beginning ca. 1946, and possibly the first in the
entire state of Missouri. He specialized in be-bop, music which, as he
characterized it in his patter, comprised "the cooler and the goner things"
that "took the ship out of the bottle and made it stand for a brand-new

Unfortunately, teen-agers, the backbone of any DJ's success, going back to
Darrell "Downbeat" Turner, a.k.a. "DDT," who introduced me to the term,
"d[isk-]j[ockey], were not particularly interested in what was cool, much
to Spider's chagrin. He had to dedicate a portion of his show specifically
to what he called "gut-bucket music," for which he felt nothing but
contempt. In those days, the standard school-day went from 9:00a.m. to

So, at 3;30, Spider began the portion of his show that he called, "The
After-School Swing Session," which he always introduced with the following

"Let's take a stroll, down the alley behind my house! For *these* are the
_boogie-joogie_ sounds!"

That is to say, _boogie-joogie_ originated as Spider Burks's contemptuous
adjective for the kind of "sounds" that, in those days, had no particular
name, but which, today, are called "rhythm and blues," "R&B," "doo-wop,"
"soul," "city blues," "urban blues," "golden oldies," "oldies but goodies,"
etc., and, especially, country blues. The etymon is clearly _boogie-woogie_
crossed with, possibly, _joog_, unused in StL, but, as noted, Spider went
to college out of town.

Needless to say, both Herbert Simmons and Tab Smith, and any other black
St. Louisan from back in the day, would have long since been familiar with
"boogie-joogie" and been aware of its origin.

In the '50's, there was a term of opprobrium: "off-the-wall, boogie-joogie
Santa Claus." I didn't understand its point and I was too cool to ask. It
didn't catch on, in any case.

All night long blowin' be-bop sounds
And that jive ain't moved a soul
Then somebody put on the low-down blues
And the joint jumped ready to roll!
- "Talk About a Party"
Boogaloo & His Gallant Crew

AFAIK, the use of "Boogaloo" as his stage-name by Kent Harris predates all
other uses of the word.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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