This is an expansion of my piece on Maddin from my book, On That Wisconsin Beat, which was based on my 2005 interview with Maddin. Here I’ve also included material from Tapio Vaisanen’s 2006 obit on Maddin.
During his teen years Jimmie Maddin hung around the Sheboygan Theater and met many top big band musicians of the day, among them Duke Ellington, Clyde McCoy and Benny Carter. Maddin joined the military in 1946 and played in the Army Band in Japan. He headed for Los Angeles after that and played clubs, sometimes with live radio broadcasts. He hosted the Nighthawk Bandstand radio show and he is credited with helping to develop the rock ‘n’ roll saxophone style known as “honking”.
In 1951 Maddin bought his own club and, from about 1958-61, he owned the Summit, a well-known Hollywood nightspot. He appeared on local TV for two years with the Larry Finley Show. Maddin later owned the Sundown Club at 6507 Sunset, as well as the Mardi Gras on Wilshire, the Sanbah Room, the Trojan Room and Hot Toddies.
Maddin’s first release, “Boogie Boo” included jazz great Benny Carter. Maddin appeared as bandleader in the feature There's No Business Like Show Business and played himself in the 1959 cult film The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow. He said that he was the un-credited producer of the Seeds’ 1967 hit “Pushin’ Too Hard”.
As a member of the Musician’s Union Local 47 since 1948, Maddin worked to help break the color line by participating in the union's amalgamation committee merging the separate black and white musicians' unions. In later years he sold music memorabilia and in the 00’s he owned the Capri Lounge, a tiny “jazz dive” at 1134 Pacific Avenue in Glendale, where he played every Saturday night. Whenever the conversation got around to it, he would proclaim himself as one of the inventors of rock ‘n’ roll.
by Gary E. Myers/MusicGem
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