Bardu Ali

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Bardu Ali
Birth name Bardu Ali
Born (1906-09-23)September 23, 1906
Origin New Orleans, Louisiana
Died October 29, 1981(1981-10-29) (aged 75)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Guitarist
Instruments Guitar
Associated acts Chick Webb

Bardu Ali (September 23, 1906 – October 29, 1981) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. He was an American jazz and rhythm and blues singer and guitarist, and a musical promoter.

He became master of ceremonies of the bands in which he worked early in his career – Napoleon Zyas's, Leroy Tibbs', and Chick Webb's. He is credited with persuading Webb to hire Ella Fitzgerald. After a period leading his own band and touring England with Lew Leslie's hit show, Blackbirds of 1928, he returned to the Webb band, taking it over after Webb died. In 1940 he moved to California, where he became Johnny Otis's business partner, performing in Otis's band and opening the famous Barrelhouse Club with him.[1] He played an important role in the early career of Charles Brown and was Redd Foxx's business manager.

Although it is widely reported that Bardu Ali was born September 23, 1910, he was born in 1906, and in Mississippi. His older brothers and sister were born in New Orleans, to Ella Blackman, and Moksad Ali. Ella was a New Orleans native, and Ali was an immigrant from Hooghly, in the Indian state of Bengal.[2] There were several children born to this union, and while two of the older sons moved to Galveston, TX, Ella moved to the Bronx, NY with her remaining children, and her sister Fanny. It was in NYC where Bardu (originally spelled Bahadur) fell in love with acting and music. He got involved with the Black cinema in the late 1920s and 30s, eventually winding up as the front man for Chick Webb. When Webb died, Bardu eventually formed his own band, and made his way to Los Angeles with his wife Tila. He and his band were the master of ceremonies at the Lincoln theater on Central Avenue. Although Bardu and his wife Tila did not have any children together, he did have a child from another union.


  1. ^ Lipsitz, George (2010) Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis Story, p. xxv. University of Minnesota Press At Google Books. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  2. ^ Bald, Vivek Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America. Harvard University Press, 2013