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Douglas, Clifford [Boots] (ca. 1908–unknown)

Bradley Shreve Biography Entry

Bandleader Clifford (Boots) Douglas was born in Temple, Texas, probably on September 7, 1908. Douglas, known as one of the finest Texas jazz bandleaders of his era, recorded and toured throughout Texas during the big band or Texas swing heyday of the 1930s. He began experimenting on the drums at age fifteen. He played in Central Texas before moving to San Antonio, where he got his start on the emerging jazz scene.

Douglas began by accompanying Millard McNeal's Southern Melody Boys; he played his first show at Turner's Park, San Antonio, in 1926. After earning a reputation as a fine drummer and musician, he formed his own outfit, which he named Boots and His Buddies. Although highly eclectic in style, the ensemble was quite successful. The band concentrated most of its energies on playing in Texas, but made forays into surrounding states as well. Although Boots and His Buddies were not famous in New York or other eastern cities, the group garnered a large following in its home region. In 1935 Bluebird signed the band, which cut forty-two sides for the label between 1935 and 1938, including the songs "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Blues of Avalon."

After reaching a pinnacle of success in the 1930s the band steadily declined in popularity. Douglas called it quits, and in 1950 packed his belongings and headed to Los Angeles. He continued to play part-time, but his job for the county government replaced music as his primary source of income. By the 1970s he had dropped out of the public eye, and he has since faded into obscurity. The specific date and place of his death are not known. Social Security Death Records do list a Clifford Douglas who was born on September 7, 1906, in Texas and died on October 27, 2000, in Los Angeles.

John Chilton, Who's Who of Jazz: From Storyville to Swing Street (London: Bloomsbury Book Shop, 1970; American ed., New York and Philadelphia: Chilton, 1972; 4th ed., New York: Da Capo Press, 1985). Dave Oliphant, Texan Jazz (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996). Gunther Schuller, The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz, 1930–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

Categories:

  • Music
  • Genres (Jazz)
  • Peoples
  • African Americans

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

Bradley Shreve, “Douglas, Clifford [Boots],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 25, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/douglas-clifford-boots.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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