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Art Hoyle: The roar of a lion

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Sun-Times portrait by John J. Kim

Art Hoyle has had seven horns stolen.
And the music keeps playing.

"Three out of my home, two out of a rental car and two out of my own car," the former Chess Records session player said last week during his first visit to the historic Chicago studio in 44 years.

The 82-year-old horn player looked down at his Olds Recording trumpet and Yamaha flugelhorn.

"These, I left in the middle of State Street when I was playing at Andy's (jazz club) one summer night in the 1990s," he said. "I turned around to talk to (club owner) Penny Tyler and her husband and I thought I put them in the trunk. I had left them on the curb where I had my car parked. I jumped back in the car and drove back. Nothing there. The guy who used to stand outside Andy's listening to music had them. The doorman at Andy's told me he had the horns. I got the guy's number."

The fan lived in a near north rooming house, an S.R.O. on the down low.........

........Hoyle called the man. "He said he was going to be working at the Sun-Times loading newspapers on trucks," Hoyle recalled. " He told me to meet him there at 11:30 a few nights later."

Hoyle went and hung around. He said, "I stood there and stood there and 12:30 came finally a guy came out and asked if I was waiting for someone. I mentioned the guy's name and he said, 'He's sleeping back there under some boxes.' I went back and he was next to the Pepsi-Cola machine and some boxes. And there's my horn case, this one right here. I woke him up and said I wanted to talk to him about my horns. I asked if $100 was okay, he said, 'Yeah, this is great'." It was on Wabash, right across from the bridge.
"I worked in that neighborhood for a long time. I was playing the Chez Paree the night John Kennedy was killed. That was right across the street from the Sun-Times. (400 N. Wabash after it left its original location at 610 N. Fairbanks Ct.) Andy's (established 1951) was right around the corner. Guys from all the newspapers would come down there on their break and have sandwiches, beers, whatever.

"There were big dogs walking around in there."

Hoyle played with the Sun Ra Arkestra in the mid-1950s and the 17-piece Lionel Hampton Orchestra during the early 1960s. He has a full sound which enabled him to cross over from jazz into the cresting soul scene of the 1960s.

He has lived Gary, Ind. since 1943. He was born in Cornith, Miss. "Its near the Tennessee border in the northeast corner of the state," he said. "My father (Arthur) started the first high school in that county for blacks. (Now Hoyle High). The Hoyle family moved to Stillwater and Muskogee, Ok. before settling in Gary. The family moved to Gary because of the good school system.
That was a long time ago.

In 1945 Hoyle was attending Roosevelt High School in Gary while his future wife Ruth went to Froebel. Hoyle remembers Frank Sinatra coming to Gary to sing "The House I LIve In" to all the city's students in a mass assembly at Memorial Auditorium. "
"Froebel was only integrated school in Gary," Hoyle said. "My wife was on the committee that met his plane and greeted him. He made some remarks about all races and relations before he sang. It was a very big deal."

Just as big as the 58-year-marriage of Art and Ruth.

Hoyle was a horn player with rhythm and blues singer Lloyd Price on a 1960-61 tour with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Jimmy Reed. He recalled, "We did 67 one nighters from New York to Los Angeles and back. Two bus loads of people. We wound up in the 369th Armory in Harlem. It was supposed to accommodate 1,800 people and they had over 3,000 in there. Big Joe Turner was on that bill and he was singing let it roll like a big wheel. A girl was trying to marry one of the guys in the band got up on a table and started shaking. A guy in the balcony threw a bottle. It landed in front of the piano that was being played by (organ player) Big John Patton. The lead alto player turned around as the bottle broke. It hit him and blood streamed down. Fights broke out. And Joe is still singing. The fire department turned on hoses. Bo Diddley's drummer and I rescued this pregnant woman who was about to be trampled. We pulled her up on the bandstand with us."
Art Hoyle reunited with fellow Chess session man Gene Barge

Hoyle began a residency at Chicago's legendary Regal Theatre in 1962. Chicago was a good place to be for a horn player in the early 1960s. "We were running from studio to studio all day every day from here to downtown," he said. "I did jingles for radio and television and voiceovers (TWA, United Airlines, Schlitz beer Converse shoes)."
He also wound up playing on one of the last major sessions during the 1957-67 glory days of Chess at 2120 S. Michigan.

Hoyle was in the majestic horn section behind Billy Stewart's "Summertime," recorded at Chess on Oct. 6, 1965.

Enjoy the roar of a lion as winter approaches.

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Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.


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This page contains a single entry by David Hoekstra published on November 5, 2011 4:30 PM.

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