Jimmy Haislip (1936-2017)

We belatedly note the passing of the excellent trombonist Jimmy Haislip, of St. Louis, who died on December 31, 2017 at 81. He started his first Dixieland band while still in high school. By 1958 he was part of the Mound City Six, a group that toured and even had a weekly television show. Many guests sat in including Gene Krupa. Over the years Haislip also played with Bobby Hackett, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Bob Crosby, and many other notables. He appeared on numerous television shows including Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, the Tonight Show, Gary Moore’s I’ve Got a Secret, and the Ed Sullivan Show.

Mound City Six
The Mound City Six with Jimmy Haislip on Trombone

In the 60s he was part of Bob Snow’s band in Pensacola that turned Rosie O’Grady’s Warehouse, a Dixieland Saloon, into a hub of downtown revitalization. He played with Bill Allred and other revival legends.

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Back in St. Louis, he inspired at least one young man to get into jazz. Rodney A Lancaster first noticed him playing with a small group at a bar called The Banjo Palace after attending a Cardinals game with his father. Years later he found himself on a gig with Haislip in Russ David’s Orchestra, “All evening I debated myself whether I should tell him that he was the person who inspired me to become a trombonist and I decided not to. I regret not telling him.”

Jimmy Haislip trombone
Jimmy Haislip at Rosie O’Gradey’s

Haislip toured with Cornet Chop Suey for a time in the early 2000s, but the road life was not for him. He preferred the work he could do closer to home, making music and otherwise. In 1992 his brother published The Long Road to the Bottom: The Story of Jazz Trombonist Jimmy Haislip.  It detailed his rough childhood, his life in jazz, his struggles with alcohol, and his eventual conversion to Christianity and newfound purpose as minister of Hope Ministries in St. Louis.

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