Archives Collection

CENTER FOR POPULAR MUSIC                                     97-021




Doc Cheatham Gravestone Unveiling and Celebration

14 June, 1998


Black and white negative and contact sheet images depicting the unveiling of  Doc Cheatham’s gravestone in Nashville, and images of the subsequent musical celebration at McGillicuddie’s restaurant in Nashville.  Present at the unveiling were Doc Cheatham’s widow, Amanda (Nellie); his daughter, Alicia Croker; his grandsons, Theo and William Croker; some relatives; Doc’s agent, Andrea Du Plessis; friends; and other supporters of his music. 


Adolphus Anthony “Doc” Cheatham was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 13, 1905.  He learned to play cornet and saxophone while he was young, played in various pit orchestras for touring stage shows, and eventually had opportunities to accompany some renown blues musicians when he settled in Chicago in the mid 1920s.  In Chicago he also had opportunities to hear (and substitute for) Louis Armstrong, decided to play trumpet exclusively, and proceeded with a formidable career with the finest band leaders.  During his career he played in the bands of Albert Wynn (and recorded with them on soprano saxophone accompanying blues singer Ma Rainey), Erskine Tate, Wilbur De Paris, Noble Sissle, Chick Webb, Sam Wooding, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, Cab Calloway, Teddy Wilson, Benny Carter, Sam Price, and some Latin bands.  He has recorded with such excellent artists as Count Basie, De Paris brothers, Vic Dickenson, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Johnny Guarnieri, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, Earl Hines, Milt Hinton, Art Hodes, Billie Holiday, Claude Hopkins, Franz Jackson, Herbie Mann, Jay McShann, Gerry Mulligan, Omer Simeon, Rex Stewart, Maxine Sullivan, Butch Thompson, and Lester Young.  He toured extensively all his life, even in his eighties.  Doc died June 2, 1997 in Washington, DC.


Louis Brown’s Firehouse Jazz Band consists of Chuck Bond, cornet;  Louis Brown, trombone;  Marcus Arnold, tuba;  Mike Hoke, clarinet and saxophone;  Danny Coots, drums;  Jerry Springer, banjo;  and David Jellema sitting in, cornet.  Tommy Sanders, a local jazz fan, organized the tribute and was master of ceremonies.


For other photographs of the same event, please see the Mississippi Rag magazine, August 1998, p. 32.