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Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon (February 3, 1895 - 1944 ?[1]) was an African American vaudeville singer, female impersonator, stage designer and comedian, popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

Contents

Life and career

He was born in Montgomery, Alabama, orphaned, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. His nickname of "Half Pint" referred to his 5'2" height. He started in show business around 1910 as a singer in Kansas City, before travelling extensively with medicine shows in Texas, and then touring the eastern seaboard. His feminine voice and outrageous manner, often as a female impersonator, established him as a crowd favorite. By 1917 he had begun working regularly in Atlantic City, New Jersey and in Chicago, Illinois, often with such performers as Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters, whose staging he helped design.

In the late 1920s he sang with top jazz bands when they passed through Chicago, working with Bennie Moten, King Oliver and Freddie Keppard among others. He also performed and recorded with the pianists Cow Cow Davenport, Tampa Red and "Georgia Tom" Dorsey, recording with the latter pair under the name of The Black Hillbillies. He also recorded with the Harlem Hamfats. In the 1930s he was often on radio in the Chicago area, and led his own band, Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon and his Quarts Of Joy.

Jaxon appeared with Duke Ellington in a film short called Black and Tan Fantasy (1929). Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher" (1931) is based both musically and lyrically on Jaxon's "Willie the Weeper" (1927).[2][3]

His recordings, such as "Fan It" (later recorded by Woody Herman), are mostly filled with bawdy comedy, double entendres and hokum. Blues fans reserve a special place in their hearts for his orgasmic parodies of "How Long How Long Blues" and "It's Tight Like That", louché collaborations with Tampa Red, Georgia Tom and assorted jugbandsmen.[4]

In 1941 he retired from show business and worked at The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He was transferred to Los Angeles, California in 1944 where, according to most sources, he died in the veterans hospital, although according to Allmusic he lived in Los Angeles until 1970.

Song lyric

"If this song's too hot," sang Frankie Jaxon, "Go out and buy yourself a five cent fan." - "Fan It" [4]

See also

References

  1. ^ Although most sources state that he died in 1944, AMG gives a date of 1970
  2. ^ Lorenz, Brenna & Lorenz, Megaera. (2001). Heptune Lorenz-Pulte Jazz and Blues Page. Retrieved January 11, 2008, from http://www.heptune.com/jazzfolk.html
  3. ^ (1999). Willie the Weeper. Retrieved January 11, 2008, from http://www.heptune.com/willieth.html
  4. ^ a b Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 124. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.  

External links

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