Historic Photos

Photo of the Week, 37: The “A” Train Stopped in Bloomington back in ‘72

October 16th, 2013

Jazz great Edward Kennedy “Duke" Ellington and his band performed at the Scottish Rite Temple (now the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts) on September 18, 1972. Ellington is pictured here chatting with Edward Tick, formerly of Bloomington but then living in Newport, Rhode Island. Tick served as Ellington's tour manager during an extended swing through Asia earlier that year. It's not known if Ellington's band opened with its signature tune “Take the 'A' Train," though the playlist included “Do Nothin' 'til You Hear From Me," “Toga Brava Suite" and “La Plus Belle Africaine." Ellington's penchant for non-stop touring and life on the road were the stuff of legend. “We're on the go 52 weeks a year with no holidays," the 73-year-old told The Pantagraph. “You never catch up. You never get to where you want to be." This was Ellington's third stop in the Twin Cities. In the mid-1930s, he appeared at the old Coliseum. At that time, African Americans were not welcome at downtown Bloomington restaurants or hotels. Dean Litt, the Coliseum manager, recalled serving homemade ham sandwiches to Duke and his band. In 1955, Ellington was back in Bloomington, this time performing for a State Farm employees group at the Scottish Rite Temple.

Bill Kemp


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