As we count down the hours until the election ends, how about a little music... and some history?
Did you know that jazz giant Dizzy Gillespie ran for president in 1963/’64?
Yeah, it was a joke campaign. But Diz got mileage out of it, including a “campaign song” – a reworking of his classic composition “Salt Peanuts.”
Click here to stream “Vote Dizzy” on my Vox blog. It was recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival in ’63, and it features bebop vocals by Jon Hendricks.
According to Wikipedia: “[Gillespie] promised that if he were elected, the White House would be renamed ‘The Blues House,’ Ray Charles would be appointed Librarian of Congress, Miles Davis would become the head of the CIA, and Malcolm X the Attorney General.”
Jon Hendricks told a British newspaper in 2004: “It shone a light on the whole thing. Like, ‘What about a black person running for president?’ It had never happened before.
“At the same time, black people were saying to the Democrats, ‘We don’t have to vote for you.’ It was to give both political parties, all those poseurs and jive-talkers, a kick in the butt.”
A white bassist named Bill Crow, in his 1992 memoir “From Birdland to Broadway,” wrote that he wore a “Dizzy Gillespie for President” button when he performed on the White House lawn in 1964.
“It was prominently displayed on my lapel when Lyndon Johnson and his Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, came through the crowd, shaking hands,” Crow wrote.
“I don’t think Johnson’s eyes came far enough into focus to see my ‘Dizzy Gillespie for President’ button, but I got very stern looks from the pair of Secret Service agents that were covering his back.”
Lyndon Johnson won the election.