In 1951 Red Rodney had left Charlie Parker's quintet and formed his own group. His manager was a man named Ray Barron who, for a short time, had been down beat's Boston stringer. Rodney's recording affiliation at the time was Prestige, and Barron was on the phone in President Bob Weinstock's inner office, talking to a club owner in some small town in the Boston area. "I got this terrific bebop band for you," he began. "Click," went the other end of the line.
Bebop, or bop, had never been that welcome a word, but now it was anathema, "business-wise," to a small-time club owner. He needn't have known that traditional cornetist Doc Evans had presided over a mock funeral for bebop in Minneapolis, or even have seen the picture of the event in down beat. The word scared him. And hadn't Dizzy Gillespie's big band broken up? And didn't Charlie Parker, when he had a job in Philadelphia at 8:30, leave New York from Charlie's Tavern at that time, or not show up at all?
Parker's involvement with drugs was widely-known, and within bop there were many of the bigger and lesser names who were "strung out" on heroin at one time or another during this period. Gillespie was not, but his zany behavior repelled some people as it simultaneously attracted others. In the minds of many, bop and drugs were inextricably linked, and this created another negative for the music.
Long before this bop had received bad publicity from uninformed quarters. Life magazine ridiculed Gillespie (never even mentioning Parker) in a 1947 article and, even earlier ( March 1946), a Los Angeles disc "jerkey" named Ted Steele (New Yorkers were later subjected to his noxious personality and non-talent on television's WPIX in the early '50s), attacked bebop by ban-