Ella Fitzgerald, Jailed in Houston for Shooting Dice: Photo of the Day

Categories: Spaced City

Photo by Pete Vazquez/via Houston Chronicle
Ella: Shooting dice will get you arrested.
Is this a great picture or what?

It's the inestimable Ella Fitzgerald sitting forlornly in a Houston jail, arrested for shooting dice in her Music Hall dressing room with -- get this lineup -- Dizzy Gillespie, Illinois Jacquet and Norman Granz.

It comes from the Houston Chronicle's always terrific Bayou City History blog, where J.R. Gonzales gets to wallow in the photo archives of the Post and Chron. (Yeah, we're jealous.)

Follow the link for the full story, but there's this excerpt from the Post's report on the incident:

Sgt. W.A. Scotton said saxophonist Jacquet had the dice in his hand as the troop of officers walked in. The troop confiscated the dice and $185 in cash. Then they agreed to wait until the first show was over before taking the performers to the police station.

Mr. Jacquet, the saxophone man, was the most nonchalant of those arrested. He told reporters his name was Louis Armstrong.

The hardened criminals were booked, let out on $10 bonds and made it back for their second shows that night with the audience unaware of what had gone on.

Update: Here's a 1999 story we did that talks about the incident.

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Richard: Thanks for the nice shot-out. I appreciate it!


It's a shame that when New Times (now Village Voice) bought out the late, great Public News they just took it out in back of the barn and killed it with an ax to eliminate the competition (such as it was) without hanging on to any of the meager assets. The photo archive was a jewel box (several filing cabinents worth) of 80's bar-band publicity shots.


I heard that the Public News was delinquent with its federal tax payments in a big way and approached New Times about paying off the balance if they would shutter; I'm not sure which assets New Times rec'd, but that was the rumor at the time as I recall it.

So it wasn't quite 'taking it behind the barn and killing it with an axe'; more like tossing it a life preserver, then cutting the line, hoping it might swim to shore and not be drowned by tax liens.

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