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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Arthur Alexander Month: The Death of Joe Henderson

     So... while browsing through old issues of Billboard for info about Mr. Alexander, I stumbled upon this article in the November 7, 1964 issue:

    While on the one hand, this does answer the question of why I'd never seen any further records by Henderson, on the other, it just generates further questions. What causes a 27-year old to have a heart attack? A congenital heart defect? Amphetamines (certainly a common thing in the Music City)? Or something else? And why was he bunking with Arthur, rather than his wife and kids? Mrs. Henderson died in 2008, so she's obviously not a good resource.

If you're only going to have one song that people remember, you could do a lot worse than this. 

    I have no answers for those questions, but thanks to the efforts of crack digital librarian and first-rate spouse Mandy Mastrovita, I do know a few things about where Alexander was as his roomie lay dying:

"Social...Spin," Red and Black, October 22, 1964, p. 6
Presented online by the University
of Georgia Libaries.

     Homecoming 1964 at the University of Georgia would have been a pretty good weekend to crash some Greek parties. I can't say which one I would have chosen, though. How could you? Not just Mr. Alexander at Chi Psi, but The Five Du-tones, Eddie Floyd, The Tams, The Sensations (I'm assuming it was these Sensations),  The Upsetters (minus Little Richard), The Catalinas, whichever sets of "Ambassadors" and "Vibratones" these were... even Dionne Warwick (or "Warlick", as they render it here) would have been  worth seeing at that point. Of course, you'd have had to go to a frat party. And, since the Bulldogs apparently won their game by 21-7, they were probably especially wild and rowdy that night.
Chi Psi House, 320 S. Lumpkin St.

       Here's a tiny photo of the house where you'd have been attending the party in question; it was pretty new at the time, having only been built in 1960. The frat was kicked off campus for booze violations in the late '80s, and the building was razed in 2004.