Donnell Clyde Cooley was nicknamed Spade following a hot poker game ! Lucky
in cards doesn't mean happy in life, though ; in 1961, Spade was jailed after
being convicted of the horrendous murder of his second wife, Ella Mae. He died of a heart attack on November 23, 1969, at the very time when it had been announced he would soon be released on parole. But he was the
brilliant, classically-trained fiddler who coined the term 'Western Swing'
- which was an apt description of his brand of music. In 1941-1942, he fiddled
for others - Johnny Bond, for instance - but on September 30, 1943, he inked
a solo contract with Columbia. His biggest hit was 'Shame On You', from a
1944 session for Okeh (a branch of Columbia), with Tex Williams on vocal.
Innovative arrangements, flashy licks from high caliber musicians such as
Smokey Rogers, Cactus Soldi, Pedro DePaul and Deuce Spriggins, Cooley's music
was stylish and entertaining. He signed with RCA Victor in 1946, at a time
when Tex Williams and most of his band had departed. He recruited other players
(like guitar great, Jimmy Wyble), added horns and several vocalists while
Noel Boggs took Joaquin's seat at the steel
guitar. This transitional period proved to be both prolific and creative.
Such tracks as 'Spanish Fandango', 'Boggs Boogie', 'Hillbilly Fever' or 'Wagon
Wheels' are among his very best. He then went to Decca and the quality of
his output did not diminish. His stint with those labels has never been fully
documented - until now !!
I'm proud to publish, for the very first time, the complete
RCA & DECCA discographies & sessionographies of
Spade Cooley, King Of Western Swing.