Jimmy Slyde (October 2, 1927 – May 16, 2008), born James Titus Godbolt, and known as the King of Slides, was a world-renowned tap dancer, especially famous for his innovative tap style mixed with jazz.
Slyde was born in Atlanta, Georgia. His family then moved to Boston, where he grew up. After seeing Bill Robinson perform, Slyde began tap lessons at age 12 with Stanley Brown at The New England Conservatory of Music. Soon after forming the duo "The Slyde Brothers" with a fellow student, Jimmy "Sir Slyde" Mitchell, Slyde began touring with big bands in clubs throughout the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s, performing regularly with both Duke Ellington and Count Basie. In the 1960s, after work temporarily dried up in the United States, he moved to Paris and danced in Europe for six years.
Slyde's profile in the United States revived noticeably in the 1980s. He danced in the films The Cotton Club, Tap, and Round Midnight, as well as a number of television specials. He collaborated with Steve Condos on a program of jazz tap improvisation at the Smithsonian Institution and performed across the United States and in South America. In 1989, Slyde received a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway debut in the musical Black and Blue.
In recent years, Slyde received a number of significant honors, including the NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award (1999), the Charles "Honi" Coles Award (2001), a Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography (2003), and an honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from Oklahoma City University.
Slyde continued performing and teaching throughout the United States late into his life, stressing the importance of mastering the basics and using sliding cascades of taps close to the floor.
The Tap Heritage Foundation has now announced the passing of Dr. Slyde on May 16, 2008. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
- Frank, Rusty E. Tap! The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and Their Stories, 1900-1955. Rev. ed. New York: Da Capo Press, 1995. 259-61.