1934 — Edgar Sampson writes “Stompin’ at the Savoy”

The Savoy Ballroom was one of the most happenning places in all of Jazz Age Harlem. It’s not at all mysterious why Edgar Sampson (a member of the Ballroom’s house band) would chose to memorialise it in song, nor why that song would become a popular standard (especially at the Savoy itself). The mystery is why it took nearly ten years (the Savoy Ballroom first opened its doors in 1926) for such a song to be written.

The piece was originally an instrumental, with the now familiar lyrics added to it by Andy Razaf later – the song had been recorded twice as an instrumental and even made the charts in that form. The song has been covered by countless musicians in the 80 years of its life, and remains a popular song even today.

Referenced in:
Le Freak — Chic

1934 – John Dillinger shot dead outside the Biograph Theater

John Herbert Dillinger was one of the most notorious criminals in America in an era when criminals were rock stars. But Dillinger outshone them all – Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Pretty Boy Floyd – none of them were as popular. Part of the reason for this was Dillinger’s manner – he was an unusually polite criminal and also a very clever one. He and his gang once robbed a bank on the pretext that they were making a movie of a bank robbery.

All this notoriety wasn’t good for his life expectancy, though. J. Edgar Hoover declared him Public Enemy Number One, and a team of FBI agents led by Melvin Purvis hunted him down. Dillinger spent most of the last year or so of his life laying low, but eventually someone dropped a dime on him, and the FBI agents laid a trap for him when he went to see “Manhattan Melodrama” at the Biograph Theatre in Chicago. The plan was to arrest him as he left at the end of the film, but Dillinger recognised Purvis and attempted to escape. The agents gave chase, firing five shots at Dillinger and hitting him three times.

Dillinger bled to death outside the Biograph, and local legend has it that passerby dipped their handkercheifs in his blood. His life and works are commemorated by the John Dillinger Died For You Society.

Referenced in:

Dillinger — David Olney

1934 – Bonnie and Clyde’s criminal career ends in a hail of gunfire

After a killing, shooting and robbing spree that had lasted for more than two years by that time, Bonnie parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed not far from their hideout in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, by a posse of six police officers. Only two of the police were Louisiana officers, the remaining four were Texas officers who been tracking the couple for some time. Two nights before the event, they had learned of the couple’s likely whereabouts while in nearby Shreveport, and had set up the ambush on the 22nd, lying in wait.

In the space of less than fifteen minutes, the variously armed sextet of police fired over 130 rounds into the car. Parker and Barrow were each hit at least 25 times, and died before firing halted. There was consierable controversy about this at the time, not least since the couple were folk heroes of a sort. In particular, there were no warrants in Bonnie’s name for any violent crime (although Clyde was a suspect in ten murders, in addition to numerous other crimes).

Referenced in:

B&C – Utada Hikaru
Bonnie & Clyde – Big Japan
’97 Bonnie and Clyde – Eminem
’97 Bonnie and Clyde – Tori Amos
Bonnie and Clyde – Belinda Carlisle
Bonnie and Clyde – Martina Sorbara
Bonnie Und Clyde – Die Toten Hosen
Demolition Lovers – My Chemical Romance
Bonnie Parker’s 115th Dream – Johnny Boy
Legend of Bonnie and Clyde – Merle Haggard
Bonnie and Clyde – Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot
The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde – Georgie Fame and His Blue Flames