peoplepill id: slim-gaillard
1 views today
1 views this week
Slim Gaillard

Slim Gaillard

American musician
Slim Gaillard
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American musician
Was Musician Guitarist Jazz musician Pianist Songwriter Singer Jazz guitarist
From United States of America
Type Music
Gender male
Birth 4 January 1916, Detroit
Death 26 February 1991, London (aged 75 years)
Peoplepill ID slim-gaillard
The details (from wikipedia)


Bulee "Slim" Gaillard (January 4, 1916 – February 26, 1991), also known as "McVouty", was an American jazz singer and songwriter who played piano, guitar, vibraphone and tenor saxophone.
Gaillard was noted for his comedic vocalese singing and word play in his own constructed language called "Vout-O-Reenee", for which he wrote a dictionary. He also spoke at least six other languages (Spanish, German, Greek, Arabic, Armenian and English) with varying degrees of fluency.
He rose to prominence in the late 1930s with hits such as "Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)" and "Cement Mixer (Put-Ti-Put-Ti)", after forming Slim and Slam with Leroy Eliot "Slam" Stewart. During World War II, Gaillard served as a bomber pilot in the Pacific. In 1944, he resumed his music career and performed with notable jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Dodo Marmarosa.
In the 1960s and 1970s, he acted in films—sometimes as himself—and also appeared in bit parts in television series such as Roots: The Next Generations.
In the 1980s, Gaillard resumed touring the circuit of European jazz festivals. He followed Dizzy Gillespie's advice to move to Europe and, in 1983, settled in London, where he died on 26 February 1991, after a long career in music, film and television, spanning nearly six decades.

Early life

Along with Gaillard's date of birth, his family lineage and place of birth are disputed. Many sources state that he was born in Detroit, Michigan although, by his own account, he was born in Santa Clara, Cuba,:934 of an Afro-Cuban mother called Maria (Mary Gaillard) and a German-Jew father called Theophilus (Theophilus Rothschild) who worked as a ship's steward.:674 During an interview in 1989, Gaillard added: "They all think I was born in Detroit because that was the first place I got into when I got to America."

However, the 1920 census lists one "Beuler Gillard" [sic] as living in Pensacola, Florida, having been born in April, 1918 in Alabama. Researchers Bob Eagle and Eric LeBlanc have concluded that he was born in June 1918 in Claiborne, Alabama, where a "Theophilus Rothchild" [sic] had been raised the son of a successful merchant in the small town of Burnt Corn; other documents give his name variously as Wilson, Bulee, or Beuler Gillard or Gaillard.

According to the obituaries in leading newspapers, Gaillard's putative childhood in Cuba was spent cutting sugar-cane and picking bananas, as well as occasionally going to sea with his father. At the age of twelve, he accompanied his father on a world voyage and was accidentally left behind on the island of Crete.:674 After acquiring a few words of Greek, he worked on the island for a while, "making shoes and hats".:674 He then joined a ship working the eastern Mediterranean ports, mainly Beirut, where he picked up some knowledge of Arabic.:674

When he was about 15, he re-crossed the Atlantic, hoping the ship would take him home to Cuba, but it was bound for the USA and he ended up in Detroit. He never saw either of his parents again.:674

In Detroit, Gaillard first worked doing odd jobs in a general store owned by an Armenian family, with whom he lived for some time, later trying also to make some money at prize-fighting. During 1931 or 1932, when Prohibition was still in force, he drove a hearse bearing a coffin packed with whisky for the Purple Gang.:675 Some sources state that he apparently also worked in an abattoir and trained as a mortician.

While working for the Purple Gang, he attended evening classes in music and taught himself to play guitar, piano and other instruments.:675 When Duke Ellington came to Detroit, Gaillard managed to go backstage and meet his hero. "I like you", said Duke, "because you're studying music properly." Determined to become a musical entertainer, Gaillard moved to New York City and entered the world of show business as a 'professional amateur'.:675

As Gaillard recalled much later:



Gaillard first rose to prominence in the late 1930s as part of Slim & Slam, a jazz novelty act he formed with bassist Slam Stewart.:2Their hits included "Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)", "Cement Mixer (Put-Ti-Put-Ti)" and the hipster anthem, "The Groove Juice Special (Opera in Vout)". The duo performs in the 1941 movie Hellzapoppin'.

Gaillard's appeal was similar to Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan in that he presented a hip style with broad appeal (for example in his children's song "Down by the Station"). Unlike them, he was a master improviser whose stream of consciousness vocals ranged far afield from the original lyrics, along with wild interpolations of nonsense syllables such as MacVoutie O-reeney. One such performance is celebrated in the 1957 novel On the Road by Jack Kerouac.


Gaillard, with Dodo Marmarosa on piano, guested a number of times on "Command Performance", recorded at KNX radio studios in Hollywood in the 1940s and distributed on transcription discs to American troops in World War II.

In 1943,:4 Gaillard was drafted in the United States Army Air Forces and "qualified as a pilot flying [...] B-26 bombers in the Pacific" and resumed his music career on his release from the draft in 1944.

Gaillard later teamed with bassist Bam Brown; Slim and Bam can be seen in a 1947 motion picture featurette—with the Gaillardese title O'Voutie O'Rooney—filmed live at one of their nightclub performances and also featuring Mabel Lee.


In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Gaillard frequently opened at Birdland for such greats as Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips, and Coleman Hawkins. His December 1945 session with Parker and Dizzy Gillespie is notable, both musically and for its relaxed convivial air. "Slim's Jam", from that session, is one of the earliest known recordings of Parker's speaking voice. Gaillard could play several instruments, and always managed to turn the performance from hip jazz to comedy: he would play the guitar with his left hand fretting from the top of the neck, or would play credible piano solos with his palms facing up. Gaillard also wrote the theme song introducing the Peter Potter radio show. In addition, in 1950 Slim wrote and recorded "Don Pitts On The Air" theme intro for San Francisco DJ, Don Pitts. On March 27, 2008 the Pitts theme song entered into the archives of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH.

1960s and 1970s

Gaillard appeared in several shows in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Marcus Welby, M.D., Charlie's Angels, Mission Impossible, Medical Center, Flip (The Flip Wilson Show), and Then Came Bronson. He also appeared in the 1970s TV series Roots: The Next Generations and reprised some of his old hits on the NBC primetime variety program, The Chuck Barris Rah Rah Show.


By the early 1980s Gaillard was touring the European jazz festival circuit, playing with such musicians as Arnett Cobb. He also played with George Melly and John Chilton's Feetwarmers, appearing on their BBC television series and also occasionally deputising for Melly when he was unwell. Gaillard's behaviour on stage was often erratic and nerve-wracking for the accompanying musicians. He also made a guest appearance on Show 106 of the 1980s music program Night Music, an NBC late-night music series hosted by David Sanborn.

Around Christmas 1985, Gaillard recorded the album Siboney at Gateway Studios in Battersea, London, produced by Joe Massot. As Massot recalled later:

In 1986, Gaillard appeared in the musical film Absolute Beginners, singing "Selling Out".

In the autumn of 1989, the BBC aired director Anthony Wall's four-part documentary on Gaillard as an 'Arena Special' presentation by the Arena series, entitled Slim Gaillard's Civilisation:

  • Episode 1: "A Traveller's Tale" (52:51), on 22 October 1989
  • Episode 2: "How High The Moon" (60:50), on 29 October 1989
  • Episode 3: "My Dinner With Dizzy" (59:59), on 5 November 1989
  • Episode 4: "Everything's OK In The UK" (54:40), on 12 November 1989
  • Britt, Stan; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Gaillard, Slim". In Barry Kernfeld. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, vol. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. ISBN 1-56159-284-6. 
  • Sleeve notes from Slim Gaillard Laughing in Rhythm: The Best of the Verve Years, 1994.
  • ^ Sleeve notes from Siboney, Trojan World TWLP 005 (1991) / Indigo Recordings Ltd IGOCD 2066 (1997).
  • Sleeve notes from Slim Gaillard 1945/Tuitti-Fruitti [sic], Swing Time ST 1018 (1988).
  • "O'Voutie O'Rooney". weirdwildrealm.com. Paghat the Ratgirl. Retrieved 25 March 2016. 
  • Lewis, David (2010). "O'Voutie O'Rooney". www.nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 25 March 2016. 
  • O'Voutie O'Rooney at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 25 March 2016
  • Sutherland, Allan J. (9 January 2003). "Charlie Parker Sessionography". kyushu-ns.ac.jp. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  • Wall, Anthony (22 October 1989). "A Traveller's Tale". An Arena Special:Slim Gaillard's Civilisation. Episode 1. BBC Two. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  • Wall, Anthony (29 October 1989). "How High The Moon". An Arena Special:Slim Gaillard's Civilisation. Episode 2. BBC Two. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  • Wall, Anthony (5 November 1989). "My Dinner With Dizzy". An Arena Special:Slim Gaillard's Civilisation. Episode 3. BBC Two. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  • Wall, Anthony (12 November 1989). "Everything's OK In The UK". An Arena Special:Slim Gaillard's Civilisation. Episode 4. BBC Two. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 

Languages used in songs


Gaillard used Yiddish in at least two of his songs, "Dunkin' Bagels", and "Matzo Balls", where he refers to numerous Jewish ethnic dishes eaten by Ashkenazi Jews. The songs were issued by the Slim Gaillard Quartet in 1945 on the Melodisc label, featuring Gaillard on guitar, Zutty Singleton on drums, "Tiny" Brown on bass and Dodo Marmarosa on piano. "Dunkin Bagels" was later included in the 2010 compilation CD Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations, issued by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation. "Matzo Balls" is played on the radio by John Goodman's character ("Al Yackey") in the 1989 Steven Spielberg film Always.


He has also made a cover version of a greek folk song called "Tee say malee" (Why do you care)


Arabic is also used in some of Gaillard's songs, for example "Yep-Roc-Heresay" and "Arabian Boogie".

Irish Gaelic

Irish is present in the name O'Voutie O'Rooney, the title of his 1947 movie and reminiscent of Vout-O-Reenee, the name he used for his invented language. The name invokes at least one Irish surname, O'Rooney, which means "Son of Secrets/Mystery." The root of Rooney is "rún" the Irish word for "mystery" and is related to the word "rune," an old European writing system.

Personal life

Gaillard had three children:

  • Janis Hunter, who is the ex-wife of singer Marvin Gaye and the mother of Nona Gaye and Frankie Christian Gaye
  • Mark Gaillard
  • Michael Gaillard.


In 1991, the Belgian group De Nieuwe Snaar released an amusing ode to Gaillard (in Dutch), "Slim Gaillard", on track 7 of their CD William.

Selected discography

Compact discs

  • Slim Gaillard & Slam Stewart/Complete Columbia Master Takes (2001)
    Studio Sessions, 1938–1942, New York City, Hollywood.
    Released as 3-CD set by Definitive Records (Disconforme SL), Andorra
  • In The Chronological Classics Series (Classics Records), France:
    • Slim Gaillard 1937–1938, CLASSICS-705 (1993)
    • Slim Gaillard 1939–1940, CLASSICS-724 (1993)
    • Slim Gaillard 1940–1942, CLASSICS-753 (1994)
    • Slim Gaillard 1945, CLASSICS-864 (1996)
    • Slim Gaillard 1945 Vol.2, CLASSICS-911 (1997)
    • Slim Gaillard 1946, CLASSICS-962 (1997)
    • Slim Gaillard 1947–1951, CLASSICS-1221 (2002)
    • Slim Gaillard 1951–1953, CLASSICS-1437 (2007)
  • Slim Gaillard Slim's Jam (1938–1945), Topaz 1068 (1997)
  • Slim Gaillard Laughing in Rhythm (1937–1952), Proper Records PROPERBOX 62 (2003)
    Released as 4-CD box set by Proper Records, London, UK
    • Disc one: The Flat Foot Floogie (15 April 1937 – 11 October 1939)
    • Disc two: Groove Juice Special (19 April 1940 - September 1945)
    • Disc three: Cement Mixer (Put-Ti, Put-Ti) (September 1945 - January 1946)
    • Disc four: Opera in Vout (January 1946 - December 1952)
  • Slim Gaillard Laughing in Rhythm: The Best of the Verve Years (1946–1954), Verve-314 521 651-2 (1994)
  • In The Metronome Series (Hep Records), UK:
    • Slim Gaillard The Legendary McVouty, HEP CD6 (1994)
    • Slim Gaillard at Birdland 1951, HEP CD21 (1995)
    • Slim Gaillard Absolute Voutest!, HEP CD28 (1998)
    • Slim Gaillard Ice Cream On Toast 1937–1947, HEP CD86 (2008)
  • Slim Gaillard Rides Again! (1958), Verve Dot DLP 25190 (2002)
  • Slim Gaillard Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere!, HEP CD2020 (1982)
  • Slim Gaillard Siboney (1985), Indigo IGOCD 2066 (1997)

Vinyl albums

  • Slim & Slam/Matzoh Balls, Caète Records CALP 4 (????)
    Studio Sessions: June 1938, Aug. 1938, Nov. 1938, Sep. 1939, Oct. 1939, Mar 1941 (New York).
  • Slim & Slam/Volume 1, TAX m-8028 (????)
    Studio Sessions: Feb. 1938, May 1938, June 1938, Aug. 1938, Nov 1938 (New York).
  • Slim & Slam/Volume 2, TAX m-8043 (????)
    Studio Sessions: Nov. 1938, Sep. 1939, Oct. 1939, Apr. 1939 (New York).
  • Slim & Slam/Volume 3, TAX m-8044 (????)
    Studio Sessions: Aug. 1940, Sep. 1940, Mar. 1941 (New York); July 1941 (Hollywood).
  • Slim Gaillard 1945/Tuitti-Fruitti [sic], Swing Time ST 1018 (1988)
    Studio Sessions: September 1945 (Hollywood) & December 1945 (Los Angeles).
    Released as 1 LP by Swing Time/The Contact Record Label, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Slim Gaillard Volume 1/Laughing in Rhythm, Official 3050 (1989)
    Studio Sessions: December 1945; April & May 1946 (Los Angeles); March, May & August 1951 (New York).
    Released as 1 LP by Official Record Company, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Slim Gaillard Volume 2/Chicken Rhythm Official 3055 (1989)
    Studio Sessions: August 1951; January, July & December 1952; December 1953 (New York).
    Released as 1 LP by Official Record Company, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Slim Gaillard Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere!, HEP 2020 (1982)
  • Slim Gaillard Siboney (1985), Trojan World TWLP 005 (1991)

Selected filmography


  • Hellzapoppin' (1941)
  • Almost Married (1942)
  • Sweetheart of Sigma Chi (1946)
  • O'Voutie O'Rooney (1947)
  • Stairway for a Star (1947)
  • Go, Man, Go! (1954)
  • Too Late Blues (1961)
  • Planet of the Apes (1968):157–162
  • The Curious Female (1970)
  • Absolute Beginners (1986)
  • Sky Bandits (1986)


  • Mission Impossible (1966–1973)
  • Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969–1976)
  • Medical Center (1969–1976)
  • Then Came Bronson (1969–1970)
  • Flip (The Flip Wilson Show) (1970–1974)
  • Charlie's Angels (1976–1981)
  • The Chuck Barris Rah Rah Show (February–April 1978)
  • Roots: The Next Generations (18–24 February 1979)
  • What's Happening!! (16 March 1979)
  • Love's Savage Fury (20 May 1979)


  • Arena Special, Slim Gaillard's Civilisation (1989):
    • Episode 1: "A Traveller's Tale" (22 October 1989)
    • Episode 2: "How High The Moon" (29 October 1989)
    • Episode 3: "My Dinner With Dizzy" (5 November 1989)
    • Episode 4: "Everything's OK In The UK" (12 November 1989)
  • The Small Black Groups (2003)
  • Sweetheart of Sigma Chi at the Internet Movie Database
  • Stairway for a Star at the Internet Movie Database
  • Too Late Blues at the Internet Movie Database
  • Massingberd, Hugh M. (24 October 1997). The Daily Telegraph Third Book of Obituaries: Entertainers. London: Macmillan. p. 162. ISBN 0-333-67506-1. Gaillard also appeared, usually as himself, in numerous films including Too Late Blues (1961), directed by John Cassavetes, Planet of the Apes (1968) and Absolute Beginners (1986). 
  • The Curious Female at the Internet Movie Database
  • "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE". loc.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved 28 February 2016. Slim Gaillard appeared in one segment. 
  • "CHARLIE'S ANGELS (1976/81)". loc.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved 28 February 2016. Slim Gaillard appeared in one segment. 
  • Love's Savage Fury at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 28 March 2016
  • Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "Eleven Treasures of Jazz Performance on DVD". www.dvdbeaver.com. Retrieved 25 March 2016. [...] The strangest by far are half a dozen live performances by guitarist/pianist/vocalist Slim Galliard [sic], the legendary composer of "Flat Foot Floogie" [...] seen performing here at Billy Berg's club in 1946 with his eccentric trio consisting of bassist and fellow vocalist "Tiny Bam" Brown (often gesticulating and hugging his instrument at the same time) and drummer "Scat Man" Crothers [...]. Galliard [sic] was a hipster who liked to attach "o'rooney" to the ends of his words [...] and to chant the names of different kinds of Jewish food as if they were mantras (as on "Dunkin' Bagels," also included); he also turned up for cameos in Hellzpoppin' (as part of the duo Slim and Slam) and Too Late Blues (scat-singing at a party). The clips here come from an obscure mid-40s musical called O'Voutie O'Rooney, sometimes spelled O'Voutee O'Rooney, that I'd love to see unearthed some day, if only to satisfy my curiosity. 

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
comments so far.
From our partners
arrow-left arrow-right instagram whatsapp myspace quora soundcloud spotify tumblr vk website youtube pandora tunein iheart itunes