Clyde McCoy

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The “Sugar Blues” Man

It was in the Empire Room of the Marc Plaza Hotel (formally the Schroeder Hotel) that I saw and heard Clyde McCoy. This is what the dining card from the Empire Room said “Relive the days when you used to dance your cares away to the music of Clyde “Sugar Blues” McCoy. Because he’s back, opening the  Empire Room from March 1 - 30. Playing the same great music and giving you another reason to return to the Elegance of the good old days”. 

I took my wife Carol, out for an evening of dining, drinking, dancing and great entertainment, all for $15.00 each. Tax included. Those were the days alright!

What I remember most, beside the music and my lovely wife, was after Carol and I went back to our table after dancing, a Journal reporter came around to interview some of the people seated at the tables. He was surprised that such young people would come to see and dance to older bands and band leaders. We told him we came to dance to his music not to talk about Clyde McCoy. Despite the reporter, it was a very enjoyable evening.

Clyde was born December 29, 1903 in Ashland, Kentucky, a member of the Kentucky McCoy family involved in the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud. He moved to Ohio where he learned to play the trumpet at the age of 14 and found work on riverboats as a musician. He assembled his own band and the band slowly worked its way to the “Big Apple”.

Fame finally found him in 1930 when he first performed “Sugar Blues” at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Radio broadcasts brought national approval and McCoy soon signed with the Columbia label. 

In 1942, McCoy and his orchestra enlisted en masse into the Navy where they toured Naval bases and hospitals throughout the war. He and his band remained strong through the early 1950’s but finally succumbed to the fading popularity of the Big Band Era.

Clyde McCoy passed away in 1990. He co-founded Downbeat magazine in 1935.

Clyde McCoy

Born: December 29, 1903

Died: June 11, 1990; Memphis, Tennesse