MAE WEST adored ragtime. She once told an interviewer about grooving very early to "the black man's sound." Whether she was imitating the sultry Shimmy she watched in a Chicago club or swinging to the latest jam she heard in Harlem, Mae's musical taste was in formation: "we copied it because it was the greatest. [Black people] had been developing it for years."
• • In 1928, she performed a rag that she especially loved onstage in "Diamond Lil" and its Hollywood counterpart "She Done Him Wrong" . The lyricist and composer of this song — — "I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone" — — was Shelton Brooks [4 May 1886 — 6 September 1975], who published it around 1913. He was good friends with Mae's maid Bea Jackson; his nickname for her was "Hot Story Telling."
• • Born in Canada in the month of May, Shelton Brooks moved to Detroit in 1901 with his family; his parents were Native American and Black. His father was a preacher and Shelton and his brother would play the organ during services.
• • Surrounded by music, Shelton wrote his first big hit in 1910 — — "Some of These Days" — — using his own lyrics. He had already introduced the song in his own vaudeville act when Sophie Tucker's maid introduced both him and the tune to Sophie. The vaudevillian, who would eventually style herself as "the Last of the Red Hot Mamas," made this number her very own theme song.
• • "Walkin' the Dog" • •
• • His 1916 instrumental tune "Walkin' the Dog" inspired a dance that first swept dancehall-crazed New York City, and then the rest of the country. That year, the variety act "Mae West and Sister" performed "Walkin' the Dog" as their grand finale.
• • Shelton Brooks died in Los Angeles in 1975 when he was 89 years old. He is buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
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