The Cotton Club: Birthing the Careers of Legendary Jazz Musicians

Pages: 4 (1226 words) Published: February 26, 2013
Tia Culbreth
English II
Period #2
The Cotton Club
No matter what happens, music is going to be popular around the world. Its beats are drilled into us like a file is programmed into a computer. In the 1930’s, Jazz and blues were in the prime of its fame, and the growth of the black society in music was increasing rapidly. People like Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, and many more were starting off legendary careers. On the other hand, the 20’s and 30’s were in a period of Prohibition, the national ban of alcohol. The majority of people opposed this law, therefore did what they can to find any beer or wine they could. Many of them went to nightclubs that secretly sold alcohol, called speakeasies, Not only did The Cotton Club sell alcohol, but it held some of the most legendary artist of the 1930’s. The combination of good live music, alcohol during prohibition, and white-patrons only made The Cotton Club the most notorious club in Harlem.

Mobster Owen “The Killer” Madden appeared as your average guy, but not to be fooled by his weak facade, Owen was a tough man. In his former gang, he had been shot eleven times at a close range, and by the time he had recovered, he had killed most of the members of the opposing gang (Boland, 5 & 6). So when he bought the “Club Deluxe” from former boxing world champion Jack Johnson, he knew how to make the club one of the finest speakeasies in New York. He started a legend, naming it “The Cotton Club.” By 1923, the club had opened on 142nd Street & Lenox Avenue in Harlem, New York. Owen or Owney Madden used the club to sell his “#1 Beer” to the Prohibition crowd. The club was closed down many times for short periods in the beginning due to the illegal sale of alcohol, but the fact that Owney was a mobster was to his advantage. He had many political connections, and his revenge tactics, along with paying off city hall, always triumphed, therefore the club was saved and running (Winter, 1).

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