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My People

supplement to
The Duke – Where and When
A Chronicle of Duke Ellington's Working Life and Travels

This webpage was created and is maintained by David Palmquist.
Event added to TDWAW 2015-12-26 and updated 2019-09-25, and 2021-06-04.
This subsidiary webpage was created in Janary 2024 because a suggestion by Steven Lasker prompted me to research the subject.

Last updated

Storyville My People CD cover
Storyville CD Cover
Click to Enlarge and see track list
My People album cover fronts
My People LP front covers
Click to view on
(reqires scrolling downonthat webpage))
Official Souvenir Programme Cover
Exposition Programme Front Cover

Peripheral event
Either "during rehearsals" for My People (Franceschina p.108 and Hasse, p.351) or "during the Chicago exposition" (Cohen p.395), Ellington met The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. outside Duke's hotel, where they were introduced by Marian Logan. Mrs. Logan described their meeting in this short YouTube interview extract. After they met, Duke invited Dr. King to McCormick Place where they heard Strayhorn et a; perform King Fit the Battle of Alabam'.

Dating this first meeting is difficult: Haijdu quotes Mrs. Logan talking about the August 28 March on Washington:

Strays spent most of his time in our room...Martin and Strays got together again, and Strays talked off his ear about Ellington's show ... Martin promised to go see it, and after that, he did. Arthur [Logan] and I took him, and that was where he met Edward for the first time.

It would seem Mrs. Logan had the timing confused. On August 1, King toured the exposition and gave Ellington a certificate, and in her interview above, she said they met the day King arrived in Chicago. Chicago Tribune 1963-08-22 says Dr. King paid a brief visit to the exposition "last week." King probably arrived before August 18, when he was the guest minister at Chicago's Liberty Baptist Church. On August 21 he toured the exposition and presented Ellington with an award (AP wirestory).

George puts the meeting on the day King arrived in Chicago:

'...King...flew from Atlanta to Chicago where Duke was rehearsing ... My People...The police and reporters met King's plane, and King left in a limousine...Marian Logan, who was in the car, mentioned, Duke Ellington is staying at the Blackstone.

King said, Why don't we stop there, I'd like to meet Mr. Ellington.

They pulled up to the hotel and sent someone in to get Duke. He wasn't up, of course, it being daytime. The assistant manager went up to the darkened room and told Duke, Dr. King is downstairs. He'd like very much to meet you.
Duke was excited. What'll I wear? What'll I wear? and eventually grabbed the same old pants and things he always wore... He just put on whatever junk was hanging around, including a white bathrobe with blue lining, and put his porkpie hat on over his stocking cap, and they came down the elevator. When they got outside the hotel, the wind was really blowing down Michigan Boulevard.

King jumped out of the car, and they were introduced...Just as they embraced like old friends, a great gust of wind blew Duke's hat off, and Duke was standing there with his arms around King, wearing only his stocking cap, his bathrobe fluttering in the breeze, while the policemen chased his beatup old porkpie hat down the street.

If George has accurately described Duke's attire, the Logan/YouTube footage showing Duke emerging from his room is not from this occasion.




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