Putney Dandridge

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Putney Dandridge
Birth nameLouis Dandridge
BornJanuary 13, 1902
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
DiedFebruary 15, 1946(1946-02-15) (aged 44)
Wall Township, New Jersey, U.S.
Associated actsLonnie Johnson

Louis "Putney" Dandridge (January 13, 1902 – February 15, 1946) was an African American bandleader, jazz pianist and vocalist.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Dandridge began performing in 1918 as a pianist in the a revue entitled the Drake and Walker Show. In 1930, he worked for a time as accompanist for tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, including appearances in the important black musical Brown Buddies[1] In February 1931, Dandridge appeared in the cast of the musical revue Heatin' Up Harlem, starring Adelaide Hall at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem.[2] In the 1932 American film Harlem Is Heaven, Dandridge, on the piano and reciting lyrics in a "speak set", accompanies Bill "Bojangles" Robinson as the legendary dancer sings "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't".[3]

After touring in Illinois and the Great Lakes region, Dandridge settled in Cleveland, Ohio, forming his own band, which included guitarist Lonnie Johnson.[4] This period lasted until 1934, when he attempted to perform as a solo act. He took his show to New York City, beginning a series of long residences at the Hickory House on 52nd Street and other local clubs. From 1935 to 1936, he recorded numerous sides under his own name, many of which highlighted some major jazz talents of the period, including Roy Eldridge, Teddy Wilson, Henry "Red" Allen, Buster Bailey, John Kirby, Chu Berry, Cozy Cole and more. Appearing to vanish from the music scene in the late thirties, it is speculated that Dandridge may have been forced to retire due to ill health. Dandridge died in Wall Township, New Jersey at the age of 44.


  1. ^ Stearns, Marshall & Jean. Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance. Page 155. Da Capo Press, 1994.
  2. ^ Heatin Up Harlem at the Lafayette Theatre, Harlem, week commencing 7 February 1931 – advert and newspaper announcement in The New York Age, retrieved 15 December 2014: http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2011/New%20York%20NY%20Age/New%20York%20NY%20Age%201931-1932%20%20Grayscale/New%20York%20NY%20Age%201931-1932%20%20Grayscale%20-%200056.pdf
  3. ^ "Harlem is Heaven--Bill Robinson, Eubie Blake, 1932 Film", posted by Alan Eichler, February 14, 2016 YouTube. Retrieved January 29, 2018. Robinson and Dandridge's performance of "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't" begins in the noted copy of Harlem Is Heaven at the 40:15 mark in the film's presentation.
  4. ^ Sallis, James. The Guitar Players: One Instrument and Its Masters in American Music. Page 44. University of Nebraska Press, 1994

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