Bollin, A. D. [Zuzu] (1923–1990)

By: Tim Schuller

Type: Biography

Published: November 27, 2006

Updated: September 25, 2015

Blues singer A. D. (Zuzu) Bollin was born in Frisco, Texas, on September 5, 1923. His social security records say he was born in 1923, though most music references give his birth year as 1922. As a boy, Bollin was influenced by two uncles, amateur guitarists, who played the records of Blind Lemon Jefferson and other early blues musicians.

He moved to Dallas with his mother by the 1930s, served in the navy from 1944 to 1946, and started performing professionally in the postwar years. In 1947 he was living in Denton, where he played in the band of Texan E. X. Brooks. He also performed in bands with such illustrious Texas reedmen as Buster Smith, Booker Ervin, and Adolphus Sneed. During this time he took the nickname "Zuzu" from his favorite brand of ginger cookies called Zu Zu ginger snaps.

In 1949 Bollin formed a group with renowned saxists Leroy Cooper and David "Fathead" Newman. Both of these musicians played on his 1951 recording of one of the true classics of Texas blues, "Why Don't You Eat Where You Slept Last Night?" (flip side "Matchbox Blues"), for the short-lived label Torch. Bollin's voice was deep and strong, and his guitar break was in the jazzy T-Bone Walker. The 1951 piece garnered a bit of regional fame for Bollin, so he figured he was entitled to raise his performance price a bit. Reputedly this irked Dallas nightclub boss Jack Ruby, who used his influence to quash the record.

In the 1950s and early 1960s Bollin traveled around Texas and the United States and toured with various bands, including the band of Joe Morris, which backed such performers as Jackie Wilson. About 1964 he left the music business and went into dry cleaning. He fell into obscurity that lasted until 1987, when blues enthusiast Chuck Nevitt found him in a poverty-row roominghouse near downtown Dallas. Nevitt took Bollin down the comeback trail, acting as his manager and producing the acclaimed LP Zuzu Bollin: Texas Bluesman, sponsored by the Dallas Blues Society and released on the Antone's label in 1989. Bollin was suddenly ubiquitous in Dallas nightspots. The friendly, personable bluesman sometimes performed with the Juke Jumpers, but his most empathic accompanist was Brian "Hash Brown" Calway. In 1989 Bollin played at the Chicago Blues Festival and toured Europe, playing at Holland's prestigious Blues Estafette. His impressive comeback was curtailed by cancer, from which he died on October 19, 1990.

Michael Erlewine et al., eds., AMG All Music Guide to the Blues: The Experts' Guide to the Best Blues Recordings (San Francisco: Miller Freeman, 1996; 2d ed., San Francisco: Miller Freeman, 1999). Living Blues, January-February 1991.

  • Music
  • Genres (Blues)
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Tim Schuller, “Bollin, A. D. [Zuzu],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 27, 2006
September 25, 2015

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