The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove


“The Birth Of The Blues” is a popular song composed by Ray Henderson. In 1954, Sammy Davis Jr. covered the song. This was the same year Sammy Davis Jr. lost his left eye in car accident. After being asked what his “handicap” was, he responded, “Handicap? Talk about handicap. I’m a one-eyed black man who’s Jewish.” This phrase became popular and was known as a signature phrase by Sammy Davis Jr.

In 1959, Davis would often perform “The Birth Of The Blues” with The Rat Pack, consisting of Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. They got their nickname after being told “You all look like a pack of rats,” from Angie Dickinson. While the rest of The Rat Pack stayed in a hotel, Davis was required to lodge in a rooming house on the west side of Las Vegas since he was black. After Davis’s death from throat cancer, the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip were darkened for ten minutes to pay a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. 

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