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Holley, Major "Mule", 1980 - 1990

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Major "Mule" Holley (July 10, 1924 – October 25, 1990), American jazz upright bassist, delivered 5 lectures. He spoke to the course on 1/22/1980 (2015-0002/RR181), 2/3/1981 (2015-0002/RR182), 2/2/1982 (2015-0002/RR183), 9/20/1983 (2015-0002/RR184), and 2/6/1990 (2015-0002/AC9).

AC 9 Major "Mule" Holley (bassist) discusses his travels to the Soviet Union for the United Nations and plays some video and audio clips for the audience.

RR 181 Edward O'Connor reviews the schedule and details of the course before introducing Hale Smith, Professor of Composition in the School of Fine Arts. Professor Smith introduced the the evening's speaker, Major Holley. Holley spoke about his personal experiences and played a composite recording of others he had performed with over the course of his career. Toward the end of his presentation he and Hale Smith performed together.

RR 182 Hale Smith announces that the class will be shorter, because Dick Gregory will be speaking later than evening. Major "Mule" Holley talks about the role rythym instruments (bass, piano, drums and guitar) play in music.

RR 183 Hale Smith introduces Major "Mule" Holley (bassist). Theme of music andculture is threaded through his discussion of his growing up years, specifically in Detroit. He also performed for the class.

RR 184 Hale Smith introduces Major "Mule" Holley (bassist) after a few class announcements. Holley asks the class questions--"Do you know who Duke Ellington is? Or was?..the young people who play with the Greatful Dead? " The names of people who produce the music we listen to are not recognized--Holley suggests that most of the audience don't know who he is even though he's been playing music, almost everyday, for thirty-five years.


  • 1980 - 1990

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

Major "Mule" Holley, Jr., born in Detroit, Michigan, on July 10, 1924, was a prolific jazz double bass performing and recording artist. He attended the prestigious Cass Technical High School in Detroit. Holley played violin and tuba when young. He started playing bass while serving in the Navy, playing in the Ships Company A Band at Camp Robert Smalls, which was led by Leonard Bowden and included Clark Terry, and several other musicians recruited from civilian dance bands.

In the latter half of the 1940s, he played with Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald; in 1950 he and Oscar Peterson recorded duets, and he also played with Peterson and Charlie Smith as a trio. In the mid-1950s, he moved to England and worked at the BBC. Upon his return to America, he toured with Woody Herman in 1958 and with Al Cohn/Zoot Sims betweeb 1959 and 1960. A prolific studio musician, he played with Duke Ellington in 1964 and with the Kenny Burrell Trio, Coleman Hawkins, Lee Konitz, Roy Eldridge, Michel Legrand, Milt Buckner, Jay McShann and Quincy Jones in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1967 to 1970, he taught at the Berklee College of Music.

Holley was known for singing along with his arco (bowed) bass solos, a technique Slam Stewart also used. Holley and Stewart recorded two albums together.

Holley died on October 25, 1990 at the age of 66.

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4 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recordings ) : RR 181 1 reel, 1:37:41; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 182 1 reel, 1:07:42; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 183 1 reel, 1:20:10; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 184 1 reel, 1:22:29; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.

1 Cassettes (Audio cassette tape recording) : AC 9 1 cassette, 0:48:28; 0:35:00. The recordings were combined for ease of listening. The combined run time of the digital recording is 1:23:25.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English