top of page

The Story Is Told

Sidney Bechet And The Chicken

3 Chickens.jpg

"Well, back in those days, except for Buddy Bolden's band there wasn't much of this Teddy So-and-so's Hotshots, or Hill's such-and-such; instead they'd have some name like Imperial Orchestra, or the Peerless, or the Magnolia, or the Superior, or the Olympia. Every band was trying to find some name that was higher than the next one. And all the musicianers they'd wear these hats with an emblem on them ...

Naturally the Eagle Orchestra had an eagle for its emblem - that was to represent America - and when I showed up to play my first time they told me to go get a uniform cap with the emblem. I didn't need to be told twice ... I went to this old lady in the neighbourhood who used to do some sewing and she said sure, she could make it up. She had it done real soon, too, and I looked at it and I tried it on and I took it off to look at it again. I just couldn't get done admiring it. It was such a beautiful thing! ...

... I marched in there and sat down to play with the men and I was going along real fine when suddenly I found that everybody was looking at me ...

'Lookit that!' they said. 'Man, oh man, we got us a real live rooster.'

'Tell this boy to get an eagle on his hat, and what's he come back with but a chicken?'

... I looked at theirs and I looked at mine, and I saw it was a chicken; it was awful like a chicken ... The next day I set out to get myself a real eagle ... so I went off to ... those stores for the army ... and I bought myself one of those officer hats. ... I went back to where the band was then ... but as soon as I walked in they just burst out laughing. I thought they just never would get done with all that teasing and razzing."


From Treat It Gentle by Sidney Bechet

In this video from 1952 Sidney Bechet and Claude Luter play Les Oignons.

bottom of page