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31 March 2010

Ray Charles In The Cotton Club '75 (1974)

Cotton Club '75 was a TV program directed by Mark Warren, taped in (probably August or September)  1974 at Stage 1 of NBC Studios in Burbank. The caption to the photo from Ebony (below) reveals that it was actually a pilot, and hosted by Ray Charles. The show aired on November 24, 1974.

The program was produced by Joe Adams. It obviously failed, just like a number of contemporary ventures (e.g. Soul Of The Holy Land, Everybody Can Be Somebody).
The TV page of the Oswego Palladium from 23 November 1974 announced it as: "Black revue blends old favorite Billy Daniels, the Nicholas Brothers, Redd Foxx and Ray Charles with newcomers Cleo Laine, Jonelle Allen and The Lockers. Highlights include Ray Charles' rendition of Let The Good Times Roll, Cleo Laine's medley, Redd Foxx's monologue and a tribute by the principals to the late Duke Ellington".
The original line-up also included Cab Calloway (see next paragraph), Franklyn Ajaye, Johnny Dankworth, Clifton Davis, Rosey Grier, Buddy Rich, and Jimmie Walker.
The Herald Statesman (Yonkers, NY) in 1982 ran an article claiming that "In 1975 [sic!] Cab [Calloway] came to the West Coast to appear in a TV special about the club with Ray Charles. But Cab walked, calling the production 'phony, an insult to the Cotton Club'". See this.

1975 was the year that the second location of the real Cotton Club was demolished.

The Paley Center has archived two 1-hour tapes (ID 79957, 79958).
Photo from Ebony, October 1974.
 "Ray shares spotlight with Clifton Davis (L), Stony [? BS] of ABC-TV Series That's My Mama, and veteran singer Billy Daniels during taping of recent NBC-TV pilot." From: Ebony, Oct. '74.
There's much more in this newspaper article (follow the link to see the whole page).

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