Tommy Graham - Ode To Spade (2:14)
If you believe the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture, pioneering western swing band leader Spade Cooley was born on this day in 1910. Plenty of other web sources list Cooley's birthdate as December 17, 1910, though, and I'm not sure who to believe. Regardless of exactly when his birthday is, it's a fine day to share with you this tribute 45.
Cooley enjoyed a long and prosperous career in radio, films, television, records and live performances, but remains quite notorious for the fact that he was convicted of murder in the first degree for the extremely brutal slaying of his wife Ella Mae in 1961, following which he received a life sentence.
Ode To Spade is Tommy Graham's Spade Cooley tribute disc, released shortly after Cooley's fatal heart attack on November 23, 1969 following a performance. The show, performed during a 72-hour jail furlough, was held at the Oakland Auditorium, now known as the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, which was recently in national news when members of Occupy Oakland attempted to take over the long vacant building and use it for their headquarters. Graham and Cooley were both inmates at the Vacaville Medical Center, and became friends while incarcerated.
For the most detailed and extensive report on the rise and fall of Spade Cooley, I highly recommend John Marr's Murder Can Be Fun #19, available for a mere $2 plus a modest $1 shipping charge. The Michael McMahon illustration above appears there, and it can also be found in an issue of Lowest Common Denominator, the former house organ of WFMU.