Friday, May 28, 2010

The Polish Prince

Bobby Vinton, photo from Star Pulse

Stanley Robert Vintula, Jr. entered the world on April 16th, 1935, the only child of local bandleader Stan Vinton. The Polish Prince, Bobby Vinton, had arrived.

Vinton was surrounded by music early, watching and listening to his dad's band practice on the first floor of their Smith Street house through the floor vents to his second floor bedroom. It took him a while to get used to it, though - his mom had to bribe him with quarters to take his music lessons as a kid. But it did take root.

At 15, the Canonsburg native formed his first group (the Hilites, with Mike Lazo and Gene Schacter, later of the Tempos) and played the local dances. "I played West View Park, Kennywood and just about every prom in the area," Vinton told John Hayes of the Post Gazette. They also got to back some national acts passing through town.

Then it was off to college. He paid his way through Duquesne University with the money he earned from the band. Vinton studied music on the Bluff, learned to play a half dozen instruments, and graduated with a degree in musical composition. He would later be awarded an honorary doctorate by the school, too.

He credited the Dukes with giving him the foundation in arrangements that helped him reach success. Dick Clark picked him up as band director for acts like Fabian, Brenda Lee, and Chubby Checker.

He served a two-year hitch in the Army, where he was a chaplain's assistant and blew the trumpet. After his discharge, his band scored a four week gig on Guy Lombardo's "TV Talent Scouts".

Local DJ Dick Lawrence (WMCK?) then made the rounds peddling Vinton wax. The songs were "Halellujah I Love Her So" and "Twilight Time," released on Pat DiCesare's Bobby Records label. Ray Charles and The Platters also released the songs, leaving Vinton in the dust. But it did land the Polish Prince a contract with Epic Records in 1960 as the bandleader for "A Young Man With a Big Band." Hey, we can't make this stuff up!

Two albums and several singles flopped, all big band versions of contemporary hits, and the label was ready to deep six the band; they owed them two more sides and that would legally complete the deal.

Then a record sitting in Epic's pile of rejected songs fell to Vinton. He took off his bandleader hat and turned to singing, even though he always felt that he was a musician, not a singer. It was a pretty good career choice.

"Roses Are Red (My Love)" became a number-one song in 1962, topping the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for four weeks. Oddly, the crooner first recorded it as an R&B number but decided on a different arrangement with strings. Good choice, again.

The single was not only Vinton's first Number One; it was also the first Number One hit for Epic. The label, needless to say, held onto Vinton.

Other songs he released that year sold like hotcakes, too. "Blue on Blue" hit #3, and "Over the Mountain (Across the Sea)" cracked the Top Thirty.

Vinton kept cranking the ballads out, and with great success.

He followed "Roses Are Red" with 1963's "Blue Velvet", an old Tony Bennett tune, and hit the top of the charts again. In 1990, "Blue Velvet" climbed to Number One again, this time in Great Britain after it was played in a Nivea commercial.

Vinton also had five more songs enter the Top Twenty Five on the charts.

In 1964, he had a pair of chart toppers. First was "There! I've Said It Again," also a #1 hit in 1945 for Vaughn Monroe. It marked the changing of the guard in American music when it was bumped off the charts during the first wave of the British Invasion by the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand."

That invasion, though, was a battle that Vinton fought as well as any US act. He charted 16 top ten hits during the era, while other singers and artists of the early sixties faded from the scene, not to reappear again until the oldies circuit revived their music. Vinton's manager, Allen Klein, later managed The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, leaving the circle unbroken.

The second top rated song of the year was "Mr. Lonely," written by Vinton while he was in the Army. Epic didn't share Vinton's enthusiasm for the song, and had Buddy Greco release it with no success in 1962; two years later, Vinton showed the label how to do it. In 2005, rapper Akon sampled "Mr. Lonely" on his CD "Lonely."

In 1965, "Long Lonely Nights" came in at #12, while "L-O-N-E-L-Y" charted at #22.

Vinton wrote his 1966 hit "Coming Home Soldier," and everyone in uniform during the Vietnam War had a jones for the sentiment; it's what they all wanted to be. The song was played on all the 'Nam freedom flights home, a hit on the Armed Forces Radio Network, and #11 in the States. It's still a favorite with the troops.

"Please Love Me Forever," the old Cathy Jean and the Roommates and Wanda Jackson song, reached #6 in 1967 and was a million seller, as was 1968's "I Love How You Love Me," originally done by the Paris Sisters. That song reached #9 on the charts and was awarded a gold record by the RIAA. Also in '68, "Halfway to Paradise" and "Take Good Care of My Baby" were strong sellers.

From 1969-71, the "Polish Prince" hit a cold spell, not charting a Top 30 melody. He wasn't quite done, though.

In 1972, "Ev'ry Day of My Life" hit #24 and the old Brian Hyland smash "Sealed With a Kiss" charted at #19. From 1962 through 1972, Vinton had more Billboard #1 hits than any other male vocalist, including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, and scored 28 Top 40 entries.

But Epic Records decided to drop Vinton from his contract in spite of those successes, feeling his hit-making days were over in the rock era.

So Vinton spent $50,000 of his own money on a self-written song sung partially in Polish, "My Melody of Love." He wrote it in part because his mom wondered why he didn't do any songs in Polish. And hey, moms always know best.

The song was turned down by seven major labels, but the eighth, ABC Records, bit. "Melody" turned into a multi-million selling single that hit #3 on the Hot 100, #2 on the Cashbox Top 100 chart, and #1 on the AC chart in 1974.

He followed with the "Beer Barrel Polka" in 1975, which reached #33. But his career was clearly in transition now, though his popularity as an entertainer was as great as ever.

Vinton hosted a half-hour variety program "The Bobby Vinton Show," which aired from 1975 to 1978 on CTV to 140 US and Canadian stations, and was later syndicated in the States. ABC Records, in fact, released a soundtrack album of songs performed on the show in 1975.

In 1978, CBS TV aired "Bobby Vinton's Rock N' Rollers," a one hour special that rolled up high ratings, toppling Monday Night Football. The Polish Prince even teamed up with the Duke, starring in John Wayne films "Big Jake" and "The Train Robbers." Heck, Vinton even published an autobiography, "The Polish Prince."

He owned the Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet Theatre in Branson, Missouri until 2002. Now Vinton does quite well on the casino, cabaret, and club circuit and still gets love from the oldie stations around the country.

Vinton has earned a dozen gold platters during his career, sold over 75 million records, and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He's been recognized by more than a hundred national organizations and a dozen mayors across the United States for his contributions to the ethnic communities.

He was even invited to Poland as a guest of the government, and got an audience or two with Pope John Paul. He really is the Polish Prince!

And that's not the only place he's remembered.

Canonsburg named two streets, Bobby Vinton Boulevard and Bobby Vinton Drive, in his honor. His hometown fathers even had plans to erect a statue in his honor, but Vinton nixed the idea. He told the politicos that the $100,000 that his statue would cost would do a lot more good in Canonsburg's pocket than spent on his image.

Vinton and his wife Dolores "Dolly" Dobbins Vinton have been married since December 17, 1962, raised five children, and live in Englewood, Florida. And the family man never had a whiff of controversy, quite a compliment considering that Billboard Magazine called Bobby Vinton "the all-time most successful love singer of the Rock-Era."

Here's how Vinton describes his squeaky clean career, in a Gary James interview:

"As far as critics, I'm not a hip guy. I was never on drugs. Nobody ever felt sorry for me 'cause I went straight or found God. I always had God. I've always like, played by the rules."

"Hey, we've all been to high school. We've seen the in-crowds. Most of us have been in the outer crowds, the people who weren't in. Although I was never in, I was selling records and was very happy."

We'd have to say that he's part of the in-crowd now.

"Mr. Lonely - Bobby Vinton live in 2002

Monday, May 24, 2010

Brinkman Back

Legendary Pittsburgh radio personality Chuck Brinkman returns to the local airwaves again on WRCT (88.3 FM), saluting the music and memories of 1964. “Chuck Brinkman Remembers 1964″ will be heard from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, and on

A member of KQV’s famous “Fun-Lovin’ Five” from the ’50s through the ’70s and a personality at Pittsburgh’s WTAE and Y-97, Brinkman now lives in Texas.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Little Jackie Heller

Louis Prima, Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis and Little Jackie Heller,
from the blog When Legends Gather by Tom Sutpen

Today's post is about a guy who helped keep the Pittsburgh brand alive on the big-time club circuit from the thirties into the eighties, a tiny bundle of entertainment energy known as Little Jackie Heller. The nickname was earned honestly; Heller was all of 5'1" and 105 pounds.

Little Jackie was born in the Lower Hill District, the son of the cantor for the nearby Beth Shalom Synagogue.

He was always a writer and singer. The first mention Old Mon found of him was as a ten year-old, when he made the rounds of the Uptown music shops, then an industry hub, peddling his songs and accompanying himself with his ukulele. Even his guitar was little!

A Fifth Avenue High drop-out (he went to work as a Frank and Seder stockboy to help support his family), Heller was athletic, excelling at track and swimming. He even tried his hand at prizefighting, but decided life was easier on a stage than it was in a ring.

He did have some talent as a writer and arranger, though he never had a big hit. During at least the Depression Years he was selling sheet music of his work, still a popular coin of the realm back before vinyl took off, via his Little Jack Little Sheet Music company.

Heller got his break in 1931, when Benny Davis selected him to join his "Stars of Tomorrow" tour after a plug from vaudevillian Eddie Cantor, who Heller had met and auditioned for a bit earlier. He took advantage of the opportunity, and formed a band.

The Little Jackie Heller Band found work as a barnstorming touring act during that lean decade, gigging throughout the Midwest at hotels, ballrooms, and theaters, often being broadcast live over the radio. It's said that one night in Philadelphia, Heller drew a mental blank, forgot the words to the song he was performing, dashed off stage, and that gaffe ended the band's career.

But Little Jackie turned that lemon into lemonade, and emerged as a popular lounge, radio, and film headliner.

He sang in a few movies during the '30s and '40s, was a popular ballad singer and club showman, and frequently performed on the radio. He was a regular guest on the long-running "Ben Bernie, The Old Maestro," musical radio show.

In 1942, Heller even got a credit playing in the flick "The Yanks Are Coming," a flag-waving musical comedy that featured him playing the role of Sammy Winkle, who seemed suspiciously to imitate, well, Little Jackie Heller.

(The film credit has "Jackie Heller playing Sam Winkle, playing Little Jackie Heller." We can only suppose the writers knew a good plot twist when they saw one.)

During the Second World War, he worked with the USO and entertained troops overseas. In 1943-44, Heller departed on a sixteen month tour of the Southern Pacific, including a month-long stop at Bougainville while the fighting was still hot.

He would later receive an Army commendation for performing while bombs were bursting and bullets flying, the first trouper of WW 2 to merit the military honor.

And in true Steel City style, when Heller returned to his old stomping grounds, he called all the families of the local soldiers he met while on tour. He earned the moniker "Pittsburgh's #1 Soldier in Greasepaint," along with the gratitude of GI wives, parents and girlfriends across the region.

Once settled in back home, he became a regular at the old Showboat and with sibs Bill and Sol, bought the Carousel Lounge on Liberty Avenue. The brothers ran it until 1954, eventually losing the battle against the newer and bigger suburban venues.

The 300 seat club was a showcase stage, featuring top shelf performers like (Dean) Martin & (Jerry) Lewis, Joe E. Brown, Sheckey Green, Jackie Gleason, Victor Borge, Joey Bishop, Don Rickles and Buddy Hackett, all heavy hitters of the golden era of lounge acts.

Between shows, he married model Phyllis Ruth Thalborne at B'nai Israel Temple on Negley Avenue in 1948.

Heller even became a piece of Pittsburgh TV history. On January 11 1949, live from the Syria Mosque in Oakland, he performed during the first-ever local program, a variety special aired by DuMont's WDTV, which later became KDKA-TV.

For you history buffs, he was part of a lineup that included Slim Bryant and the Wildcats, the Homestead Steel Choir, soprano Mary Martha Briney, the Polish Falcons, and the Pittsburgh Savoyards. And at the time it was Channel 3; it didn't move to 2 on your clicker until 1952.

Pittsburgh couldn't hold its native son, though. Heller spent the second half of his career, some thirty years, as an entertainer at the Vahalla for lounge performers, Las Vegas. He also scored gigs in New York City and the popular-even-then cruise ship circuit. It was said that it never took him longer than five minutes to own a room he played.

Heller passed away at the age of 82 in Vegas on July 15th, 1988, from heart problems. He died two days after his wife of 41 years, Phyllis, lost her fight with cancer. We imagine he's still playing that Big Room in the Sky, with his bride by his side.

Jackie Heller in his younger days. Thanks to Joyce for the photograph from her private collection. It was a keepsake from her aunt Betty who worked in Rochester's Loew Theater where Jackie appeared.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Joy Ike

Joy Ike

When young Joy Ike's family moved to the United States from Nigeria, they had to shorten their native surname, like many of our kin who arrived at Ellis Island with too many vowels. They were enrolled at immigration as Ikeh, and later became Ike.

Good thing for Pittsburgh's music fans and their "I Like Ike" movement.

Ike started her career singing in her local church. She grew up in a devoutly Christian family, and attended the Assemblies of God church as a kid, switching to non-denominational churches as a teen. One thing you can bet on is that a religious upbringing includes lots of music.

She was, though, a part-time singer at open mic shows and full-time student. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Communications, Ike began to focus again on her songwriting while working full-time as a publicist for a book publisher.

Ike knew that she wanted to perform, but the tub thumping 9-to-5 stint earned her daily bread while she played local and regional gigs and built a fan base. It also gave her a crash course on the business end of the entertainment industry.

In 2006 she released her first EP, "Before These Words Were Ever Spoken…" The next year, Ike was voted runner-up for "Best Solo Artist" by the Pittsburgh City Paper, and won the title in 2008-09.

She was also featured on's "Alternatives" as "one of the artists [who] will ultimately be responsible for placing Pittsburgh's music scene firmly on the map." It was nice recognition for an indie singer-songwriter.

Her first full-length album, "Good Morning," was released in June 2008, featuring "City Lights." She had given up her publicist career before the CD's release to begin her full-time journey as an artist.

The CD Release Party for her latest album, "Rumors," will be on 4 PM Sunday, May 16th, at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts at 6300 Fifth Avenue in Shadyside.

It's a "Potluck Release." Each guest bringing a dish with them will receive free admission and a discount on "Rumors." Ike will be accompanied by her band, The Freya String Quartet, and the Heather Kropf Band.

"Rumors" was recorded by sound engineer Jake Hanner, who doubles as the drummer for Donora. It was mixed and mastered at Emmy winning studio Ya Momz House, located on South Highland Avenue in East Liberty, and produced by Ike.

And hey, money was no object. Ike went on line to help fund her project; she got three-quarters of her costs donated in exchange for CD's, downloads, t-shirts, and "warm and fuzzy feelings."

While her background influenced her songwriting, Ike isn't gospel, folk, or a Christian music maker; her musical muses are Sara Groves and Brooke Waggoner. She considers her sound a mix of "pop, nu-jazz, and neo-soul."

Old Mon doesn't know about all that; he's befuddled by the array of genres in today's music. But he does know a clean, warm pop voice when he hears one, and Joy Ike sure has that.

Her instrumentation is unique, too, with piano, strings, and kind of a tribal percussion. It makes for an indie-pop sound that's custom made for a club and its intimate surroundings or a good vibe comin' through the iPod buds.

Her "Rumors" players are top rate: Chris Massa [drums], Jason Rafalak [bass], Peace Ike [djembe] and Elliot Anderson [cello] help keep the flow rollin'.

Ike's music addresses universal topics: love, loneliness, personal connections, and the search for God. She works her way through topics like her brother's death on "How She Floats," and her thoughts on relativism and reality on "Give Me Truth."

But she doesn't preach, even if an occasional Biblical reference slips into her songs, and her lyrics are written for adult consumption.

If that doesn't explain it, reviewers have compared her vocally to Corinne Bailey Rae and Norah Jones, stylistically to Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor, and her ambiance to that of India Aire and Lizz Wright. Toss well, and you have Joy Ike.

She knows how to take her show on the road, too. From her Pittsburgh base, she does about 130 gigs annually, stopping at local spots like the Backstage and the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and touring in DC and points east. Next month, she'll spend a week or so performing in Lancaster, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington.

Ike has has opened for national indie recording acts like Kirsten Price, Serena Ryder, Tyrone Wells, and Dwele.

She also landed a big summer gig when she'll join Lilith Fair at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Philly on July 28th. She was chosen from a long list of applicants after entering the song "Sweeter" from "Rumors" in an online contest run by and leading the ballot.

She's worked with several cultural organizations such as The Pittsburgh Public Theater, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, WYEP, The Carnegie International Museum, The August Wilson Center, and New York Faith & Justice.

One place you won't find her is playing the bar/club scene; she considers them to be too oriented toward the drawing power of an artist rather than the art itself. And hey, her performances are best suited for intimate surroundings.

The Squirrel Hill girl has also recently been featured on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" segment. She's also going multi-media on WYEP, performing with poet CM Burroughs by accompanying her work in late June.

And with her background in publicity, music marketing and promotion, Ike also runs a website called Grassrootsy, a bi-weekly blog helping independent artists to better represent themselves and their music from the industry's business end.

She's good at it, too; articles in the Post Gazette, Tribune Review, and City Paper all beat Old Mon to the punch this week. They all ask the same musical question:

What's not to like about Ike?

Joy Ike - "City Lights"

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Kenny Klook Clarke

Kenny Clark picture by Karlheinz Klüter from Drummerworld

Kenneth Spearman Clarke was born on Wylie Avenue in Pittsburgh's Hill District on January 9, 1914, to Charles Spearman and Martha Grace Scott. Martha was a pianist, and taught her boy how to tickle the ivories.

But when Clarke was only six and a half years old, his mother died, and his father left the family. He and his older brother Chuck were sent to the Coleman Industrial Home for Abandoned Children to be raised.

At Coleman, Clarke's interest in music grew, and he learned to play the drum, trombone and vibraphone as well as music theory and composition. He first started playing snare drums with the school marching band at the age of twelve.

Around age seventeen, he began to work professionally in Pittsburgh with bands led by Leroy Bradley and George Hornsby. Hornsby's band was taken over by Pittsburgh natives Roy Eldridge and his brother Joe and became the Eldridge Brothers' Rhythm Team.

In 1934, while performing in Cincinnati, Clarke ran into members of Andy Kirk’s band who were stranded when Kirk disbanded his group. One of the artists was East Liberty native Mary Lou Williams. Impressed by Clarke's play, Williams suggested that he audition for the Jeter-Pillars band in St Louis.

Williams even drove Clarke to St. Louis on her way back to Kansas City, and he got the job. He toured around the Midwest for several years with the band, which also featured bassist Jimmy Blanton and guitarist Charlie Christian. By 1935, Clarke was a frequent visitor to New York, where he eventually moved.

By this time, he got bored of playing like Buddy Rich and the other big band bangers, keeping time on the bass drum. He took the main beat away from the bass drum and put it up on the ride cymbal (the single cymbal generally on the drummer's right side). The bass drum was then used for providing accents instead of the beat, or "dropping bombs" as it was called by the players.

It basically took timekeeping away from the bass and allowed the drummer to interact with the rest of the band instead of just boom-boom-booming along. The drum became an instrument instead of a mere metronome. It may sound like a simple innovation, but it placed Clarke in the be-bop triumvirate of holies, along with Max Roach and Pittsburgh's Art Blakey.

In New York, he worked in groups led by Edgar Hayes and Lonnie Smith, and began honing his drumming concepts. Working a little later for big band leader Ted Hill, he was actually fired for "dropping bombs" during the set. He was obviously a man ahead of his time.

But Hill would soon give Clarke an opportunity to father be-bop. One year later he called Clarke and asked him to organize a band for Minton's, a club he was managing on 118th street in Harlem.

Clarke hired pianist Thelonious Monk along with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Christian, and Charlie Parker as regular players, and that was the birth of be-bop and later, modern jazz.

He still sat in with the traditional music-makers of the time, like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and the combos of Benny Carter, Red Allen and Coleman Hawkins; he also recorded with Sidney Bechet.

Clarke was drafted into the Army in mid-1943. Like many musicians, Clarke didn't take to the structure of Army life (the only bombs he cared to drop were from behind his kit), and went AWOL for 107 days, during which time he managed to gig with Dinah Washington and Cootie Williams. Make music, not war.

He did eventually serve out his time and returned to New York in 1946. By this time, he had converted to Islam and taken the name Liaquat Ali Salaam. In 1944, Clarke married singer Carmen McRae when she visited him on an Army base in Alabama, and their marriage lasted until 1956.

Clarke worked with Dizzy Gillespie's big band and led his own sessions; he co-wrote "Epistrophy" with Monk and "Salt Peanuts" with Gillespie. Clarke spent the late '40s in Europe, and drummed for Billy Eckstine when he was in the U.S. And he picked up a nickname, too.

The combination of a rim shot on the snare followed by a bass drum accent was known by jazzmen as a "Klook-mop", an imitation of the sound it produced (otherwise known as onomatopoeia, to those who stayed awake during English class).

Clarke's nickname of Klook was immortalized by "Oop Bop Sh'Bam," a song recorded by Dizzy Gillespie in 1946 with Clarke on drums, where the scat lyric to the bebop tune goes "oop bop sh'bam a klook a mop." Guess who the klook doing the mopping was?

In 1951, Clarke was a member of the Milt Jackson Quartet, comprised of himself, Milt Jackson (vibes), John Lewis (piano), and Ray Brown (bass), all musicians he had met through Mintons.

After a gig, the guys were driving home together in Jackson's car, vaguely dissatisfied with the music they were playing. They put their heads together, and the Milt Jackson Quartet had become the Modern Jazz Quartet by the time Jackson parked his Caddy. And they didn't even have to change their MJQ monogram.

Lewis become the quartet's musical director, and the group pioneered what would later be called "third stream", an alternative to the hard-bop blues then in vogue.

Clarke stayed with the MJQ until 1955, when he felt somewhat trapped by the genre, and began contemplating a move to Paris, a place he fell in love with during his European tours of the 1940s. He filled the time with studio work during 1955-56, the results being preserved on a 4-disc retrospective titled "Kenny Clarke: Klook's The Man."

He made the move to Paree in 1956, at the urging of pianist and composer Michel Legrand. Clarke was drawn by the slower paced life style and better pay, and perhaps the more accepting attitude towards African-Americans in France than in his homeland, although he never made an issue of racism.

As soon as he moved to Paris, he regularly worked with other visiting and ex-pat American musicians, as well as forming a trio named "The Bosses" with Bud Powell and Pierre Michelot.

Later in 1961, with Belgian pianist Francy Boland, he formed a band, The Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, featuring leading European and expatriate American musicians. The big band, which had been the idea of Italian producer Gigi Campi, lasted for eleven years.

He was involved a bit with French cinema, playing for the film "Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud" (1957), appearing in "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" (1959), and writing music for "On N'Enterre Pas Dimanche" (1959) and "La Riviere Du Hibou" (1961). Clarke also established a drumming school in 1967.

After 1968, Clarke played and recorded with the French composer and clarinetist Jean-Christian Michel for a decade. He continued recording and playing with both U.S. musicians and his regular French band mates until his death.

He had one oddity among the great jazz drummers. Clarke had a life long distaste for drum solos, seeing his role as supporting soloists rather than claiming the limelight for himself. Too bad Ginger Baker didn't have the same sensibility.

Klook had settled in the Parisian suburb of Montreuil-sous-Bois, and in 1962, he married a Dutch woman, Daisy Wallbach. The couple had a son, Laurent, in 1964. On January 26, 1985, Clarke died at home of a heart attack at the age of 71. He is survived by his first son, Kenny Clark Jr. (Liaquat Ali Salaam Jr.), born in 1950 to Clarke and singer Annie Ross.

He was buried at Paris' most celebrated resting place, the Père-LaChaise Cemetery (The "East" cemetery, established in 1804 by Napoleon), not far from his home. In 2005, the city of Montreuil-sous-Bois named a street after him, Rue Kenny Clarke.

In 1988, Clarke was inducted posthumously into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.

Kenny Clarke Septet with Cannonball Adderly - "Bohemia After Dark" 1955