In Jimmy Heath’s autobiography “I Walked with Giants,” drummer Roy Haynes recounted:
I met Jimmy around 1946 when I was with Luis Russell and we played the Earle Theater in Philadelphia. A lot of the big bands would come through the Earle. We stayed at the Douglas Hotel, which was in South Philly. That was the hotel where a lot of the big black bands stayed.
The building is still there. The historical marker out front notes that Billie Holiday lived there when she was in town.
But the Douglass Hotel was not just a place to lay one’s head. The legendary Showboat was located in the basement. John Coltrane recorded live from the Showboat in 1963.
After the Showboat, the space became the Bijou Café. Grover Washington, Jr. recorded live from the Bijou Café in 1977.
The basement of the Douglass Hotel was a magical space.