Vicksburg in Warren County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
The Blue Room
One of the most storied night spots in the South, the Blue Room, which stood across the street at 602 Clay Street, was operated for more than thirty years by flamboyant owner Tom Wince. Ray Charles, Fats Domino, B. B. King, Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong, and Little Milton were among the many stars who played here. In the 1940s and '50s Wince was the most important blues promoter in Mississippi, booking bands through a network of nightclubs and halls across the state and in Louisiana.
The Blue Room, a multi-purpose complex that included a ballroom, restaurant, gambling casino, guest rooms, and living quarters for owner Tom Wince, Jr., and some of his family, began as a one-room operation selling beer and Coca-Colas in 1937. Wince was born on July 11, 1910 (or 1909 according to Social Security files), in Oak Ridge, northeast of Vicksburg, the son of white plantation owner Tom Harris and Rosie Brown, an African American who lived on the plantation. When Brown married Tom Wince, Sr., her son became known as Tom Wince, Jr. The Winces sharecropped until the 1920s, when they moved
Wince, Jr., a hotel bellhop with a fourth grade education, became a wealthy man, a big spender known as "Fancy Tom" for his elegant attire. He had seven wives and fourteen children, most of whom worked at the Blue Room. An avid sports fan, he befriended Joe Louis and other famed athletes, as well the headliners of African American blues and jazz. Wince earned his own status as a celebrity, yet he was also remembered for his friendly greetings to anyone who entered his club, no matter what their stature in life. Wince, who had pockets specially tailored in his pants to hold his pistol, prided himself in providing a safe, courteous atmosphere for top-notch entertainment. B. B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, T-Bone Walker, and Muddy Waters were among his favorite artists, according to his son, Billy Wince, Sr. Among others who appeared at the Blue Room's upstairs ballroom, the Skyline, were Ruth Brown, Lionel Hampton, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Jackie Brenston, Erskine Hawkins, Cootie Williams, Joe Liggins, Roy Brown, Andy Kirk, Lucky Millinder, Charles Brown, and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Even when segregation was in force, whites attended when certain acts, especially Louis Armstrong, were booked here. Vicksburg's Red Tops were a regular attraction. Jivin' Jones' group from Vicksburg and the Sounds of Soul and Booker Wolf 's band from Jackson also
Urban renewal brought an end to the Blue Room in 1972, but by 1974 Wince had opened the Barrel Club at 1021 Walnut Street. The Barrel Club was famed for its prayer room; religion was another of Wince's keen interests. Also a 33rd degree Mason and a ruler in the Black Elks (IBPOEW), Wince died on September 15, 1978. His tombstone in City Cemetery is adorned with a large star similar to the one above the entrance to the Blue Room.
Erected 2011 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 140.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail 🎶 series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 11, 1910.
Location. 32° 21.019′ N, 90° 52.977′ W. Marker is in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in Warren County. Marker is at the intersection of Clay Street and Mulberry Street, on the right when Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 636 Clay Street, Vicksburg MS 39183, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. C. S. Vaiden (Mississippi) Battery; (within shouting distance of this marker); The Vicksburg & Queen of the West (within shouting distance of this marker); Banks and Bottles (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); C.S.S. Arkansas (about 300 feet away); The Steamer Sultana (about 300 feet away); The Selection of a President (about 400 feet away); Early Exploration - Fort Nogales (about 400 feet away); "The War Between the States" (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Vicksburg.
Also see . . . The Mississippi Blues Trail website. (Submitted on May 30, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 5, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 181 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 30, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.