Story behind Mister Bojangles?

The version of Mister Bojangles (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) that I have begins with excerpts from what sounds like an interview with a very old man talking about his life in the early 20th century.

Who is this man? And is the song about him? He is certainly not Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Robinson was born in 1800’s, whereas this man says we was too young for WWI.

Who is the Mister Bojangles of the song?

FWIW, I once heard Tom T. Hall sing it in concert, and he said it was based on a real encounter that Jerry Jeff Walker had in a New Orleans jail.

So, is Bo a pitcher or catcher?

"Mr. Bojangles DANCED!

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for sodomite propagandists anymore.

I doubt the song was about the Mr. Bojangles. The IMDb says Mr. Bojangles died in New York State in 1949 and VH1 says Jerry Jeff Walker was born in Oneonata, NY in 1947.

Sorry, should’ve said '42 instead of '47.

According to the album credits:

McEuen was the album’s producer. And that’s Uncle Charlie on the album cover.

There was a performer named Bill Robinson who called himself “Mr. Bojangles.” He (the one Jeff Olsen is talking about) also used to hold the world record for running 75 yards backward, for what that’s worth. Here’s a biography of him:

I don’t know anything about another Bojangles or an encounter in a New Orleans jail.

For the record, the song Mr. Bojangles was not about the dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (1878-1949). “Bojangles” was a stock character in minstrel shows, and many popular minstrel players went by that name.

From the MSN Entertainment website for Jerry Jeff Walker:

Jerry Jeff Walker is nothing if not a bullshit artist. Before you believe a story about a song being written about a chance encounter with a nobody in a New Orleans drunk tank instead of a wildly popular entertainer, you might want to snoop around and find out if Jerry Jeff Walker was ever in a New Orleans drunk tank.

And, by the way, there wasn’t a single murder, or even a death, at the prison during David Allen Coe’s time behind bars. Each and every man who went in before or during his incarceration can be accounted for. That’s doesn’t make David Allen Coe a bad songwriter, but it does kind of screw up his story about killing a man in prison.

Aha! This is enough to satisfy me. I don’t really care whether the jail story is true or not.

Thanks for all the responses.

This post courtesy of WorldWide Computer God Frankenstein Controls.