There’s no denying that the age of Mr. Happy’s and the London House was a great one for music. Do you want to relive the magic you experienced on Rush Street? Or maybe you feel like you were born in the wrong era? Perhaps you’re just looking for a great soundtrack for the evening. No matter what your reason is, “make a date with a steak” and allow us to transport you back in time with some hits from performers who appeared at Mr. Happy’s and the London House.
1. The Way You Look Tonight – the Coleman Hawkins Quartet
Start your walk down memory lane off right, with a song recorded live at the London House. This timeless classic was first sung by Fred Astaire in “Swing Time.” This sweet love song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year, and it’s become a standard over the years. Maybe you remember holding your special guy or gal tight as someone crooned this song over the London House sound system?
2. Put on a Happy Face – the Oscar Peterson Trio
There’s no way this beautiful rendition could do anything but make you be happy! Oscar Peterson was one of the world’s greatest jazz pianists, and recorded an entire album live from the London House in 1962. This song was the album’s title track.
3. Stormy Weather – Lena Horne
The beautiful Lena Horne appeared on the London House stage in 1966. “Stormy Weather” was one of her signature songs. It was first written in 1933 and popularized at the Cotton Club in Harlem, where Horne performed in the mid-1930s.
4. Rollin’ Stone – Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters is known as the father of Chicago Blues, and performed at the London House over his career, including in 1971. He was signed to Chess Records, another Chicago-based company.
5. Donegan’s Blues – Dorothy Donegan
Dorothy Donegan was a jazz pianist born and raised in Chicago, and played at the London House in the 1960s. She was the first African-American person to perform at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall (now the Symphony Center), playing classical music in the first act and blues in the second. Donegan never quite achieved the fame of some other London House performers, perhaps due in part to her insistence on being paid the same wage as male performers.
6. Wade in the Water – Ramsey Lewis
Ramsey Lewis is another native Chicagoan and another of the all-time greatest jazz pianists. He started piano lessons at the age of four, started his first band at 15, and released the band’s first album at 21. The traditional spiritual “Wade in the Water” is given a jazzy update in this recording. The Ramsey Lewis Trio got their start as the London House band.
7. Like Someone In Love – Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland was a British import, moving from a town outside London to Chicago after World War II to be near her American husband’s family. She had developed a love for jazz as a student, and solidified it playing with USO bands during the war. Perhaps it was then that she began to play “like someone in love” – her husband Jimmy McPartland was one of the musicians she met during this period! McPartland recorded a live album at the London House in 1958.
8. All of You – Sarah Vaughan
Grammy Award winner Sarah Vaughan recorded two albums live at Marienthal clubs, “At Mister Kelly’s” in 1957 and “After Hours at the London House” in 1959. This smooth song is a cover of Cole Porter’s piece for the 1954 Broadway musical “Silk Stockings.”
9. Someone to Watch Over Me – Della Reese
Before she was “Touched by an Angel,” Ms. Della Reese was a truck driver, an elevator operator, and then a jazz and gospel singer. She was discovered by Mahalia Jackson, and began to sing with the Hawkins Orchestra in 1953. In 1958 she recorded the live album “A Date with Della Reese at Mr. Kelly’s in Chicago.”
10. A Foggy Day – George Shearing and Cannonball Adderly
George Shearing and Cannonball Adderly both played regularly at the London House in the 1960s. They were among the group of jazz greats who gathered at the venue on its final night in the early 1970s. Shearling played an adapted version of this song (fully titled “A Foggy Day in London”), which he renamed as “A Foggy Day in London House.” Where were you on the London House’s last day?