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If this is your first visit, welcome to my blog of memories and observations. If you wish to be notified of new posts, enter an e-mail address above, and click on "Submit." As we move through a seventh year of this venture, I thank all who have made regular visits, as well as fellow bloggers who have found Stomp Off worth linking to. Doing this sort of thing is time-consuming, but I try to post fresh material at least once a week—let me know what you think. There is a Commentary option at the end of each post and a Guest Book can be reached by scrolling down and clicking on the quill image. I welcome your observations, reaction and/or suggestions in either spot—or both. As for blog content, the most current posts are on the home page, starting at the top. Earlier items are listed by month, year and title in the archive index. To zero in on a particular key word or subject, use the search option that is located directly beneath the blog's masthead. Most images can be enlarged with a mouse click, and there are links to some of my favorite blogs, etc. Since visitors have come from 150 countries, a translator with numerous languages is located below. You can at any time revert to English with a click at the top left of this page:

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Lunch with John Hammond

For at least two years, John Hammond and I saw each other on a daily basis, but only once was our conversation recorded—this is it. I had recently started work on my biography of Bessie Smith and John was one of the many people I interviewed. If our exchange seems to lack the kind of depth one might expect, it is because John and I had so many conversations about Bessie that I pretty much had it covered. 

John and Aretha Franklin at Columbia's 30th Street studio, 1960.
 (Columbia publicity photo)
So, while you probably will not learn much from this taped lunch conversation, it will at least give you an idea of what John sounded like when not standing on a stage or at a lectern. If you have read my previous posts on John Hammond, you might have the impression that we did not get long, but we actually did. Yes, there were some nasty bumps along the way, but neither of us carrie a grudge for long. John was prone to exaggerate his own accomplishments, which he certainly did not need to do, and sometimes his need to live up to an embellished image got in the way of his consideration for others. Somehow, annoying as that could be, one tended to shrug one's shoulders and fluff it off as John being John. We all knew that he had, indeed, played a major role in shaping jazz history, and that earned him a large measure of respect that made the negative aspects of his personality more tolerable.

The tape was made in November, 1970, in a midtown Manhattan luncheonette. There is background noise and there are a few times when the cassette machine cuts out or slows down for a few seconds, but these are fleeing glitches that did not seem to warrant a fix.


  1. Thanks for this FRESH perspective on John Hammond. It allows a STUDENT of History a more balanced view of the man and his knowledge. Much that has been written about him has been one sided given the relationship and knowledge of the individual writer. I feel you have done Mr. Hammond a great service in revealing many layers of a man who had a lifelong passion & interest in the Music community.

    When History is presented with a clearer reflection of the truth it allows its students the ability to keep from putting their foot in their mouth.

    Thanks Chris.

  2. Thanks for the recent excellent string of posts. Some of the characters (I'm thinking mainly of Hammond) are familiar from their own and others writings, but here I feel that I know his character, flawed as it may have been, just a little better. It's a dimension not often conveyed in print, and I thank you.