A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 07, 2007
Mr. Bojangles (person and song title)

"Mr. Bojangles” is a 1968 song title by Jerry Jeff Walker (a popular performer on the Austin music scene, especially in the 1970s). The song describes a dancer, known throughout the South, down on his luck in a New Orleans jail. Walker said that the character was based on Babe Stovall, a New Orleans guitar player and singer.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (1878-1949) was a famous Harlem dancer; although the song “Mr. Bojangles” is not based on Robinson’s life, it was Robinson who made the name “Bojangles” famous. In 1977, the Bojangles chain of chicken and biscuits restaurants was founded.

The origin of “Bojangles” is uncertain. The term “jingle-jangle” has long been in use, as has the word “jangle” (noise, ringing, chatter). Harriet Beecher Stowe used the word “bejangled” in 1867.


Wikipedia: Mr. Bojangles (song)
“Mr. Bojangles” is a popular song, written and initially recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1968 and covered since by many other artists. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band took the song to #9 on the Billboard pop chart in 1971.

It was about an obscure alcoholic but talented tap dancing drifter (not the famous stage and movie dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, as sometimes assumed). Bojangles is thought to have been a folk character who entertained informally in the south of the US and California, and some say he might have been one of the most gifted natural dancers ever. His actual name is not recorded. Authentic reports of him exist from the 1920s through about 1965.

According to the lyrics by Jerry Jeff Walker, he met Bojangles in a prison cell in New Orleans (the first precinct jail to be exact). The two began to converse about life. Bojangles began to dance as Walker admired his skill.

Walker has said that the character was based on Babe Stovall, a guitar player and singer who worked in New Orleans in the late sixties. He played a National Dobro steel body guitar, with, as he used to say “...just a finger and a thumb… I don’t read a note of music...”

Wikipedia: Jerry Jeff Walker
Jerry Jeff Walker (born March 16, 1942) is a country music singer.
Walker was born Ronald Clyde Crosby in Oneonta, New York.
(...)
Trivia
Some have called Jerry Jeff the Jimmy Buffett of Texas. Oddly enough, it was Jerry Jeff who first drove Jimmy Buffett to Key West (from New Orleans, Louisiana in a Packard).

Jerry Jeff has an annual birthday celebration bash in Austin, Texas. This party has become an enormous event in Texas and brings some of the biggest names in country music out for a night of picking and swapping stories under the Austin skyline. Jimmy Buffett attended the 2004 Birthday bash.

Wikipedia: Bill Robinson
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (May 25, 1878 – November 25, 1949) was a pioneer and pre-eminent African-American tap dance performer.
(...)
Toward the end of the vaudeville era a white impresario, Lew Leslie, produced Blackbirds of 1928, a black revue for white audiences featuring Robinson and other black stars. From then on his public role was that of a dapper, smiling, plaid-suited ambassador to the white world, maintaining a tenuous connection with the black show-business circles through his continuing patronage of the Hoofer’s Club, an entertainer’s haven in Harlem. Consequently, blacks and whites developed differing opinions of him. To whites, for example, his nickname “Bojangles” meant happy-go-lucky, while the black variety artist Tom Flatcher claimed it was slang for “squabbler.”

Mr. Bojangles (lyrics) - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
I knew a man Bojangles and he danced for you in worn out shoes
With silver hair, a ragged shirt and baggy pants, the old soft shoe
He jumped so high, he jumped so high,
Then he lightly touched down

I met him in a cell in New Orleans, I was - down and out
He looked at me to be the eyes of age as he spoke right out
He talked of life, he talked of life, he laughed, slapped his leg a step

Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles, dance! ...

Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits
History
From a dream . . . 

Bojangles’ began in 1977 as the dream of operators Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas. They saw an opportunity to develop a quick service restaurant chain based on three attributes:

A distinctive, spicy flavor profile
Wholesome, high-quality made-from-scratch products
A fun, festive restaurant design with fast, friendly service.

The core menu then was the same as it is today—spicy, Cajun style chicken served with fresh buttermilk biscuits, and one-of-a-kind fixin’s, like Dirty Rice™ or Cajun Pintos™. The light, buttery made-from-scratch biscuits are also the basis for the best breakfast in the industry. Biscuit sandwiches filled with mouth-watering items like spicy chicken filets, seasoned sausage or steak, country ham, eggs and cheese are served hot and fresh all day, every day. Sweet biscuits such as Cinnamon Biscuits and BoBerry Biscuits ® are all-day favorites as well.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
jangle, n.
1. Idle talk, chatter, jabber; an idle word. Obs.
2. Contention, altercation, bickering.
3. Discordant sound, ring, or clang.
4. Confused and noisy talk; the mingled din of voices. (A kind of blending of senses 1 and 3.)

Google Books
Religious Poems
by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Boston, MA: Ticknor and Fields
1867
Pg. 14 ("Knocking, Ever Knocking"):
Though forsaken and betangled,
Ivy-gnarled and weed-bejangled,...

9 August 1928, Ironwood (MI) Daily Globe, “‘Creole Follies Co.’ At the Ironwood Tonight,” pg. 4, col. 4:
Following in the footsteps of the world’s renowned Plantation Days and Shuffle Along shows, Creole Follies Company will hold forth at the Ironwood Theatre, for 2 days,starting tonight. This company of colored entertainers consists of some of the most talented performers known in the theatrical world.
(...)
One of the oustanding hits of the Creole Follies is the Bojangles Slide, a dance step introduced by Bill Robinson, internationally known as a headlined vaudeville artist and anyone who has seen Bill will readily see that it is his style of entertainment with which he has endured himself to the hearts of the American Theatre going public.—Advt.

27 November 1934, La Crosse (WI) Tribune and Leader-Press, pg. 3, col. 4:
Bill Robinson is the only colored person ever to be profiled in two parts in the New Yorker. And now a publisher is angling for the astute Gene Fowler to write the biography of “Bojangles.”

27 June 1935, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 1, pg. 10:
DID YOU KNOW Bill Robinson’s nickname is Bojangles. The Negro tap dance king began his career at 5 by earning nickels and dimes by dancing in beer gardens. The public schools of his home town found him a deportment problem. As a result his formal schooling ended when he was 6 years old. His first real dancing job brought him $5 a week and board. Some years later he was making $2.00 a week as a vaudeville headliner. He has never taken a dance lesson.

13 September 1935, Helena (MT) Independent, pg. 4, col. 6:
“My nerves are distraught and bejangled while I’m in this manner employed; four grocers were horribly mangled, their shoes and their hats were destroyed.”

Internet Movie Database
Soundtracks for
Swing Time (1936)
“Bojangles of Harlem”
Written by Jerome Kern, Hal Borne, Dorothy Fields
Song and dance performed by Fred Astaire, chorus

(Trademark)
Word Mark BILL ROBINSON’S BOJANGLES
Goods and Services (EXPIRED) IC 033. US 047. G & S: WINES. FIRST USE: 19500406. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19500406
Mark Drawing Code (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM
Serial Number 71605320
Filing Date October 23, 1950
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0553918
Registration Date January 22, 1952
Owner (REGISTRANT) MONARCH WINE COMPANY OF GEORGIA CORPORATION GEORGIA SO. ATLANTA STATION SAWTELL AVE. ATLANTA GEORGIA
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 19720122
Other Data THE INDIVIDUAL WHOSE NAME IS USED AS A PART AND PARCEL OF THE TRADE-MARK HEREIN IS A DECEASED THEATRICAL CELEBRITY.
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD

(Trademark)
Word Mark BOJANGLES’ FRIED CHICKEN
Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 042. US 100. G & S: RESTAURANT SERVICES. FIRST USE: 19770501. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19770501
Mark Drawing Code (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM
Serial Number 73163290
Filing Date March 23, 1978
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 1124591
Registration Date August 28, 1979
Owner (REGISTRANT) BOJANGLES’ OF AMERICA, INC. CORPORATION NORTH CAROLINA P. O. BOX 906 WILKESBORO NORTH CAROLINA 28697
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Disclaimer THE DESCRIPTIVE WORDS “FRIED CHICKEN” ARE DISCLAIMED APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN.
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Cancellation Date December 15, 2000

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, October 07, 2007 • Permalink