“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Southaven in DeSoto County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)

Club Ebony

Club Ebony Marker image. Click for full size.
By Steve Masler
1. Club Ebony Marker
Inscription. Club Ebony, which opened for business around 1948, was built over a period of years by John Jones, who purchased the property in November of 1945 with his wife Josephine. In a 1948 memoir, Jones wrote: "It is said to be the South's largest and finest night club." The name Ebony was already a fashionable one for African American nightclubs; the first Club Ebony opened in Harlem in 1927. Jones had operated other clubs in Indianola, notably Jones Nite Spot on Church Street, where a young B. B. King peered through the slats to witness performances by Louis Jordan,Jay McShann, Pete Johnson, and Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2 (Rice Miller). Jones wrote that when he opened that first business, "there were no other clubs for Negroes in Indianola at that time." In a 1967 interview King recalled that Jones "was really the guy that kept the Negro neighborhood alive, by bringing people in, like Louis Jordan...Johnny Jones was a very nice fellow, and he knew the guys on the plantations didn't have any money during the week, but he would often let us in and we would pay him off when we came in on Saturday."

Perhaps as a result of his generosity and the hefty fees he paid to present some of the biggest names in blues and jazz, Jones ran into financial difficulties with Club Ebony. After he died in May 1950, Jones's widow, his son, John E. Jones,
Club Ebony Marker image. Click for full size.
By Steve Masler, June 17, 2017
2. Club Ebony Marker
Jr., and others operated the club under the ownership of James B. "Jimmy" Lee, a white bootlegger from LeLand who had loaned money to Jones. Ruby Edwards, who also ran the popular Ruby's Nite Spot in LeLand, took over the business in the mid-1950s, and purchased it in 1958. By then B. B. King had moved to Memphis and become a big name in the blues world; on a return to his home to play at Club Ebony in 1955, he met Ruby's daughter Sue Carol Hall. They were married in 1958.

Club Ebony was rented in 1974 and then purchased in 1975 by Willie and Mary Shepard. The club's policy of booking top acts from the "chitlin circuit" continued throughout the decades: its talent roster included James Brown, Ike Turner, Syl Johnson, Clarence Carter, Denise LaSalle, Bobby Rush, Howlin' Wolf, Tyrone Davis, and many more. Mary Shepard also presented local blues by David Lee Durham, the Ladies Choice Band, and others. After B. B. King began returning for an annual homecoming festival in his honor in 1980, it became a tradition for him to climax the festivities with a nighttime performance at Club Ebony. When Shepard retired in 2008, King stepped in to buy Club Ebony, preserving not only a major cultural landmark but also the special place where, fifty years earlier, as he wrote in his autobiography, "I found love back down in the Delta."
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 34° 56.225′ N, 89° 59.552′ W. Marker is in Southaven, Mississippi, in DeSoto County. Marker can be reached from Airways Blvd 0.3 miles north of Church Road. Touch for map. Marker is located at Tanger Outlets just north of the most northwesterly crossroads. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5205 Airways Blvd, Southaven MS 38671, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Albert King (here, next to this marker); Po' Monkey's (a few steps from this marker); Charley Patton (within shouting distance of this marker); Hubert Sumlin (within shouting distance of this marker); The Peavine Branch (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Dockery Farms (about 300 feet away); Living Blues (about 400 feet away); Graceland (approx. 7.8 miles away in Tennessee). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Southaven.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Site of the original Club Ebony
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
Credits. This page was last revised on June 20, 2017. This page originally submitted on June 17, 2017, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 129 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 17, 2017, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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