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Frank Big Boy Goudie's San Francisco associates
San Francisco was the last chapter of his half-century journey
spanning 2/3 of jazz history, three continents and four musical lives.

“Behind his easy smile lies one of the most colorful stories in jazz.”  Richard Hadlock, San Francisco Examiner, 7/63

(Photograph by
William Carter c.1960)

Starting Over in America

From 1958-63, Goudie was a notable figure in the San Francisco jazz revival; the former tenor saxophonist played only clarinet.  In the Bay Area he developed a distinctive personal style with a rich, husky tone and flowing lines that oozed Creole Louisiana tradition. 

In his sixties Goudie was still brimming with energy and the Bay Area jazz revival proved fertile ground for an autumnal flowering of his music.  Drawing from his broad musical experience, that had included jamming with the jazz elite of Europe, Frank’s mastery is apparent.

Goudie poured out his delightful variations with drive and imagination, able to solo endlessly, just like his greatest inspiration, Coleman Hawkins.  His distinctive New Orleans Creole clarinet style was consistently uplifting; his eloquent solos opening like blossoms.

Explore Goudie in San Francisco further at Syncopated Times. 

Returning to America in late 1956 after thirty-two years overseas Goudie was starting over, but he’d done it before and thrived.  Signing up with American Federation of Musicians on November 28, 1956, he adapted quickly to the local Dixieland, Traditional and Revival jazz situation. 

Soon “Big Boy” was playing regularly and widely in the Bay Area.  His work in San Francisco was more modest and less financially successful than his European or South American years, though clearly rewarding.  Nonetheless, he kept a proud New Orleans tradition.  According to Goudie’s business card he was an “upholsterer,” a family trade.  His move to San Francisco was due in part to inheriting a small upholstery repair shop. 

Unlike his previous career Frank found no lucrative high profile work in San Francisco.  Though on occasion he did work briefly as a substitute with noted headlining bandleaders: pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines, trombone player Kid Ory and trumpeter Marty Marsala.

Starting Over in San Francisco

Arriving in San Francisco, Goudie had been playing music professionally for over four decades on three continents.  He joined the American Federation of Musicians Local 6, on 11.28.56, and became known exclusively as a clarinet player. 

Following his usual pattern, Frank sought work with successful bandleaders but found the high-profile clarinet jobs taken.  Over time he did work briefly for a few headline acts: trumpeter Marty Marsala, Earl Hines and Kid Ory.

Frank’s gigs with Earl Fatha Hines were in 1962 at the Black Sheep Club when he shared subbing duties during an illness of regular clarinetist, Darnell Howard.

Trumpet player Marty Marsala (brother of better-known clarinetist, Joe) was in declining health and soon moved to Los Angeles.

Trombone player and New Orleans original Kid Ory owned his"On the Levee" club in San Francisco opposite Pier 23 on the waterfront.  But Ory was hard to work for by reputation and dictated rules to his clarinet players.

"[Goudie] was a wise and good natured man who had seen a great deal of the world and liked to talk about it.  This he did with great charm in English to which traces of a French accent still clung, yet with Louisiana underneath it all.    He knew his horn, his ear was excellent, he could read anything."                                                                                                                                            --  Jim Leigh, Heaven on the Side, 2000 

Goudie, Mielke, P.T. Stanton, Peter Allen, Dick Oxtot

Pioneer Village,
East Bay, c. 1958

Recovered contact sheet
Bob Mielke collection

Frank Goudie Interviewed by Ken Mills
late 1950s or early 1960s
Hogan Jazz Archive
Tulane University, New Orleans

Goudie main page

Frank Goudie's Paris

San Francisco Associates and Venues
“Few musicians his age were ever more eager to play,” wrote Richard Hadlock in The San Francisco Examiner, 1/19/64, “A born gentleman, one of the last of the old school.” 

Frank became good friends with Hadlock (clarinet and soprano sax), and musical buddies with Burt Bales (piano), Bill Erickson (piano, trumpet), Dick Oxtot (banjo, singer) and trombonists Bob Mielke, Bill Bardin and Jim Leigh. His former Bay Area associates describe a wise, kind, modest, cultured gentleman with a strong French accent who wore a beret, yet retained the earthiness of his Creole origins.

Living in San Francisco Goudie met an eclectic coterie of noted local characters and intellectuals.  Ken Mills reports that Frank came to know such local luminaries as beat poets Kenneth Rexroth and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, jazz writer Ralph J. Gleason, gossip columnist Herb Caen and playwright Henry Miller.

Frank joined up with musicians who were mostly younger by decades.  Between 1957-63 “Big Boy” could be heard several nights of the week at various overlapping gigs, including, but not limited to venues on both sides of San Francisco Bay:

Pier 23 Jam sessions and broadcasts run by pianists Burt Bales or Bill Erickson.

In Bob Mielke’s Bearcats Goudie was a regular clarinet alternate.

At The Bagatelle Sunday afternoons in Frisco he joined Oxtot and the usual suspects.

Goudie was a regular at the music parties and jams in Berkeley: at Dick Oxtot’s home or several local Berkeley jazz houses.

For about a year in Berkeley at Monkey Inn Frank played regularly in a swing combo with Erickson (piano) and Bob Mielke (trombone).

Gentleman of Jazz
Frank was recalled as a gracious “gentleman of jazz” and supportive friend, a strong presence gently offering his wisdom, experience and encouragement, adding polish and style to any ensemble.  “He cut quite a figure,” said Bob Mielke, “he was always supportive, both personally and musically.”  

With his height, heft, French accent, beret and proud upright posture Frank stood out.  “He had it,” declared trombonist Bill Bardin, “a player who would never let anyone down,” adding, “though none of us ever called him ‘Big Boy’.”

Said Richard Hadlock:
“Few musicians his age were ever more eager to play.”

Trombonist Jim Leigh
played with Goudie at the Pier and came to know him well as recounted in his jazz memoir, Heaven on the Side.  Becoming friends they worked together in several ensembles including Leigh’s El Dorado Jazz Band in the South Bay.  Goudie, he wrote:
“ . . . was a wise and good natured man who had seen a great deal of the world and liked to talk about it.  This he did with great charm in English to which traces of a French accent still clung, yet with Louisiana underneath it all.  He knew his horn, his ear was excellent, he could read anything.”
Goudie’s satisfaction with in his new life was apparent in comments quoted by Richard Hadlock in The San Francisco Examiner 7/28/63:

“I had to come back to be an American again.  If I had stayed away any longer, I would have become another nationality.  As for San Francisco, I came here once as a young boy and decided I would live in this beautiful city some day. So here I am.”

Frank Goudie with Bob Mielke’s Bearcats (and related groups)

Bob Mielke was probably the first Bay Area bandleader to hire Frank Goudie around 1958.  By then Mielke’s Bearcats were a very popular revival jazz band that had graduated from East Bay clubs to a venue in San Francisco, Sail ‘N, where they played for years. (The location at 99 Broadway was soon the site for on of Turk Murphy’s Earthquake McGoon’s clubs.)

Mielke, Goudie,
PT Stanton,
East Bay c. 1958

Mielke collection

Whether Goudie played at Sail ‘N is unknown, but highly likely.  He joined the band as an alternate for clarinetists Bunky Coleman and Bill Napier who weren’t always available.  At times, Napier and Goudie sound quite similar, and the much-loved Bunky Coleman, devised a convincing New Orleans clarinet sound of his own.  Frank was not heard on any of their issued recordings.

Goudie worked plenty of casuals with the Bearcats and related bands.  He’s heard on a tape of Mielke’s band at their annual appearances in Visalia, CA (California’s Central Valley, south of Fresno).

With Oxtot, Erickson, Bales and others

Goudie also worked with Dick Oxtot, and was one of the three clarinet players heard on the Oxtot-Janis Joplin jazz sessions, probably 1963.

Frank developed long-standing associations with sometimes Bearcats pianists, Burt Bales and Bill Erickson, becoming a fixture at their Pier 23 jam sessions on the Frisco waterfront.  His superb playing on Pier 23 broadcasts (below) over radio KOFY, c. 1959 with personnel nearly identical to the Bearcats is eloquent testimony to these close associations.

There’s no question Frank Goudie was at his best working with the extended Bearcats clan and and East Bay jazz revival gang during his half decade in the Bay Area.

Frank "Big Boy" Goudie San Francisco Discography 1958-63.pdf
This document lists known recordings, issued and unissued,
by Frank Goudie in the San Francisco Bay Area
(as of Sept. 1, 2014):

I.  Goudie Recordings issued on CD prior to 2014
II.  Pier 23 San Francisco Waterfront Broadcasts and Jam Sessions
III.  Monkey Inn tapes (aka Bill Erickson Quartet or Quintet) Berkeley, CA
IV.  El Dorado JB (SFO)
V.  Miscellaneous venues
VI.  Berkeley Jazz House party tapes
VII.  Janis Joplin-Dick Oxtot sessions, Berkeley, CA

JAZZ RHYTHM received
The New York Festivals
finalist award for writing on
Discovering Frank "Big Boy" Goudie.

Former Saxophonist and Cornet Player, Clarinet Master

Goudie had never ceased playing clarinet, which he first learned in New Orleans before 1920.  The clarinet appears in photographs and recordings of him from the late-1920s through the 1950s.

His new clarinet sound was striking: a personal voice summing up a lifetime of experience, oozing New Orleans Creole tradition yet loose and swinging.  It may have been crafted in part to fit with the prevalent New Orleans revival style or what was expected of a Louisiana native, or he may simply have followed his own muse.  His new style fit easily with the New Orleans revival then flourishing in San Francisco.

There are no reports on the west coast of Frank ever playing anything other than clarinet, somewhat to the disappointment of his younger colleagues.  Most were curious about his tenor saxophone sound and the musical persona that had carried him across three continents.  Yet he told interviewer Ken Mills in the 1950s that he’d never been fully comfortable with the tenor and clarinet was his favorite instrument.

Goudie broadcasting with Estuary Jazz group at
Pier 23, 1959

L to R:
Erickson (trumpet)
Goudie (clarinet)
Oxtot (banjo)

Oxtot collection

Pier 23, 'Estuary Jazz group'

Once Goudie cast his lot with the younger revival jazz crowd he was soon working regularly at Pier 23.  The Pier was (and still is) a popular dive and jazz bar on the San Francisco waterfront.  Local music critic Ralph J. Gleason memorialized the dockside joint in liner notes for Burt Bales’ 1958 album, On the Waterfront:

“In San Francisco for some years now the Embarcadero (the dockside road than runs along the Bay waterfront wharves) has been a sort of North Rampart Street with Dixieland jazz floating out over the waters of the Bay every night from the Tin Angel and Pier 23, that converted dock wallopers lunchroom where Burt plays.”

In 1959 a few radio remotes briefly emanated from Pier 23, organized by radio DJ and personality “Hambone Lee” Crosby.  ‘Estuary jazz group’ (aka Waterfront Jazz Society) existed only for radio broadcast and was similar to Mielke’s Bearcats, except that it featured Burt Bales, a girl singer (actually under 18 years of age), Dick Oxtot, Goudie stepping it up a notch on-air.

Estuary was directed by Burt Bales (piano and vocals), then at the top of his game and a frequent guest of the Bearcats with Bill Erickson (trumpet) and Bob Mielke (trombone).  The swinging four-beat rhythm section was equivalent to Mielke’s: Dick Oxtot (banjo), Squire Girsback (string bass) and Bob Osibin (drums).  Notably, all these musicians hired Goudie at one time or another with the exception of Osibin.

Master of ceremonies Lee Crosby hosted the handful of shows touting the colorful dockside setting, “tugboats, switch engines and glasses clinking.”  Some were broadcast as early experiments in stereo: left and right signals transmitted simultaneously on mono AM and FM stations.  But the hoped-for TV coverage never developed.

"Pier 23 was enormously popular with local and visiting musicians as a place to drink and, frequently, to sit in.  If such a thing as a session joint exists, the Pier was the main one in the Bay area for musicians of pre-bop sympathies . . . .  Depending on who was sitting in, the music would run a gamut among New Orleans style, Chicago style, and small-band swing; if you sat in you were expected to handle transitions between styles with good grace and a certain adequacy of technique."
                                                                                     -- Jim Leigh, Heaven on the Side

New 9.2015

PIER 23 Stereo Broadcast
KGO 1959

Sound quality is mostly quite good except for some bad speed flutter toward the end.

Bill Erickson (trumpet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Burt Bales (piano, vocals)
Dick Oxtot (banjo, vocals)
Squire Girsback (string bass)
Bob Osibin (drums)
Suzanne Summers (vocals)

KGO Pier 23 stereo broadcast complete.mp3 45:00

Intro announce
Struttin’ with Some Barbeque
Lucky, Lucky Lindberg, Eagle of the USA (vocal, Oxtot)
Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams ( vocal, Susanne Sommers)
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Mack the Knife (vocal, Burt Bales)
High Society – (featuring Frank Goudie, clarinet)
Someday Sweetheart (vocal, Susanne Sommers)
Saturday Night Function
Should I Reveal? (theme)

Message from Mr. Orrfelt

Compiled by Orrfelt for Mielke

Pier 23 broadcasts

These shows featured everything great about Pier 23.  Occasional local adverts and off-the-wall comments by Pier owner/host Havelock Jerome added color.  On-air host and producer 'Hambone Lee' Crosby self-consciously evoked the piquant waterfront atmosphere, "a little slice of old San Fransciscanner." 

The fine Estuary Jazz group broadcast band was closely related to Bob Mielke's Bearcats.  Featuring Bill Erickson on horn, it's a rare opportunity to hear his fine, and hard to classify trumpet sound. 

Each show offered a generous serving of Burt Bales, "The Old Perfessor," playing ragtime or his incomparable Jelly Roll Morton interpretations. Local crooner Susan Sommers (not to be confused with a well-known actress with a similar name) was featured a bit much for my taste.

Photo above L to R: 

Susan Sommers, Hambone Lee, Bales, Mielke, Erickson,. Oxtot, Goudie

Oxtot collection

New 5.2.2014


Pier 23 Live KOFY broadcast, c. 1959

"Rose Room" features Goudie.  This tape has everything great about Pier 23: a swashbuckling performance by Frank, Bill Erickson leading the band  on trumpet in fine form, Burt Bales and Bob Mielke at the top of their games and a Dick Oxtot vocal.  This electrifying performance from the San Francisco waterfront conveys the lively and piquant atmosphere.

Despite heroic restoration efforts, this tape
contains unavoidable gaps, distortion and musical flaws.

Bill Erickson (trumpet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo, vocals)
Burt Bales (piano, vocals)
Squire Girsback (string bass)
Bob Osibin (drums)
Suzane Summers (vocals)
Lee Crosby (on-air host)

KOFY Pier 23 broadcast complete.mp3 (38:38)

or selections:

Royal Garden Blues.mp3 (3:37, sound improves after :30)
Mister Joe.mp3 (3:36, fragment)
     fragment featuring Burt Bales, announcement by Havelock Jerome
Chri-Biri-Bim.mp3 (6:00)
    announce with personnel: “Live Jazz on the air nightly”
Up a Lazy River.mp3 (2:59)
    Suzanne Summers vocal duet with Burt Bales, piano
Original Dixieland One-step.mp3 (4:35)
That Certain Party.mp3
    vocal by Oxtot
Rose Room.mp3 (3:54)
    featuring Big Boy Goudie, mentions years in Europe
Since My Best Gal Turned Me Down.mp3  (3:31, contains a brief gap)
    announce  “Jazz As Is” jazz from the Waterfront
I Had Someone Else Before I Had You.mp3 (3:00)
    vocal Suzanne Summers
    closing announcement and personnel


Goudie with Bill Erickson & Co at
Pier 23, Spring, 1962

Amos White, Bob Hodes (trumpets)
Frank Big Boy Goudie (clarinet)
Bill Erickson (piano)
Mike Prince (bjo)
Jimmy Carter (drums)
(bass unknown)

Sweet Sue_PIER 23.mp3
Old Fashioned Love PIER 23.mp3 vocal, Frank Goudie
Over the Waves PIER 23.mp3
St. Louis Blues (incomplete) PIER 23.mp3
Has Anybody Seen my Gal PIER 23.mp3

New 11.2014

Bill Erickson's Monkey Inn combo

L to R:

Frank Goudie,
Jimmy Carter (drums),
Bob Mielke,
Bill Erickson

Mielke collection

New 11.2015

Bill Erickson's Monkey Inn combo

L to R:

Frank Goudie, Jimmy Carter (drums), Bob Mielke, Bill Erickson

Mielke collection

New 11.2015

Bill Erickson's Monkey Inn combo

L to R:

Drummer Jimmy Carter, trombonist Mielke,
Bill Erickson

Mielke collection

Personal Warmth

In the San Francisco Bay Area Goudie's mature instrumental voice came to full fruition on fertile ground. In his autumnal years Goudie found fresh inspiration with skilled musicians who honored the jazz traditions he’d lived by for half
a century.

Interviewing musicians for this project, it was striking how they all recalled the lasting PERSONAL feeling of support & encouragement they’d felt from Frank Goudie.  Despite some factual errors, the chapter about Goudie in Jim Leigh’s memoir Heaven on the Side (2000) is up close and personal.
In addition to the musicians profiled here, Goudie performed with singers Barbara Dane and Carol Leigh, Earl Scheelar, Jim Leigh (El Dorado JB), clarinet player Bill Carter and trumpet player Eddie Smith among many others.


Bob Mielke’s Bearcats, Visalia, CA, c. 1959

P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet
Bob Mielke (piano)
Drums - unknown
Bass - unknown

Photo: Bearcats in Visalia, CA at an earlier date when Bunky played clarinet.
Photo: Mielke collection

Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Burt BalesMr. Sandman (3:45)
The Saints (5:09)
Basin Street Blues (3:45) poor balance, vocal by Goudie
Blues (6:33)
When You’re Smiling (4:50) incomplete at start and finish
Them There Eyes (6:11)

Thanks to Dave Greer.

Goudie trilogy at Syncopated Times:

Goudie Pt. 1 - Paris, 1924-39

Goudie Pt. 2 - South America 1939-46 and Europe 1946-56
Goudie Pt. 3 - San Francisco 1956-64        

Forthcoming: The best and rarest of the archival jazz recordings heard on these pages will soon be available for purchase on CD or downloads (Amazon, i-tunes, etc) from Frisco Jazz Archival Rarities, a partnership between Dave Radlauer and Grammercy Records.

Frank "Big Boy" Goudie on the West Coast, 1958-63: Combos, Jazz bands & Jams, Vol 1-2 featuring Bob Mielke, Bill Bardin, Ray Ronnei, P.T. Stanton, Dick Oxtot and Bill Erickson in sessions from Monkey Inn, the Berkeley Jazz house, Pier 23 jams and broadcasts.

Frisco Jazz Archival Rarities offers unissued historic recordings from live performances, jam sessions and private tapes.  Recorded mostly in the Bay Area 1940-75, this is lost sound from a boisterous musical culture that created an independent jazz style of its own.


The Black Egg was a bar in San Mateo where some of the East Bay revival musicians played briefly.  Frank and all the musicians sound very good on this session, though Oxtot’s one vocal is off mic. 

From this 1960 newspaper ad (right), it seems like Mielke soon had this gig.

In a notable tribute to the origins of the West Coast jazz revival movement, the group closed with the Yerba Buena theme, “Friendless Blues.”

P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet)
Bill Bardin (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo and vocal)
Pearl Zohn (piano)

Bill Bailey.mp3 (4:06)
Blues.mp3 (7:01)
I Want a Little Girl.mp3 (3:17)
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.mp3 (3:51)
When You and I Were Young, Maggie.mp3 (5:16)
Milenberg Joys.mp3 (5:56)
The Saints.mp3 (4:03)
See See Rider.mp3 (4:28)
Tiger Rag.mp3 (6:34)
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans.mp3 (4:02)
Friendless Blues theme.mp3 (3:43)

Pier 23 tape archive, here.
Monkey Inn tape archive, here.

“In the New Orleans tradition, he tried to make every phrase and every note count.” 
                                                              -- Richard Hadlock, San Francisco Examiner, 1/64


Frank Goudie at Pier 23 sampler

PIER 23 June 25, 1960 Jam
Ray Ronnei (trumpet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet)
Jim Leigh (trombone)
Bill Erickson (piano)
Pete Allen (bass)
Jimmy Carter (drums)

Just a Closer Walk_PIER 23.mp3
Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet_PIER 23.mp3

TRIO (Goudie, Erickson, Carter):
You Took Advantage of Me_PIER 23.mp3
You're Driving Me Crazy_PIER 23.mp3
[Blues at the Pier] PIER 23.mp3

PIER 23 (date and other personnel unknown):
Bill Erickson (trumpet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet)

Rosetta, Bill Erickson trumpet, Pier 23.mp3

Great thanks to recordist, Dave Greer.

[These historic tracks are made available despite being rough or incomplete in places.]
More historic Pier 23 sessions, here

Dick Oxtot Dwight Way session

The Oxtot's Dwight Way home was one of several so-called "Jazz houses" in Berkeley where East Bay musicians partied and jammed.  This tape is contemporaneous with Oxtot's Janis Joplin sessions, and in fact is taken from a reel containing her tracks. 

This tape from Oxtot's personal collection was only labeled Dwight Way, and lacked documentation.  Personnel was fluid in Dick Oxtot's bands though the presence of Goudie, Leigh and Erickson is confirmed.

Dick Oxtot

An excellent gig-getter, Oxtot played banjo and led ensembles (often interchangeable with the Bearcats) on both sides of the Bay.  The Bagatelle was Dick’s lively Sunday afternoon gig at a pleasant little bistro on Polk St. in San Francisco. 

Oxtot’s Golden Gate Stompers customarily had P.T. Stanton (cornet), Bill Bardin or Bob Mielke (trombonists) and Pete Allen (string bass).  When available Oxtot featured veteran African American Louisianans in the clarinet chair: Clem Raymond or Frank Goudie.


Recorded at the Berkeley home of Dick Oxtot, c. 1962

Dwight Way session #2
Unknown (cornet)
Frank Goudie (or Bill Napier) clarinet
Jim Leigh (trombone)
Bill Erickson (piano)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Walter Yost (tuba) or
Unknown string bass, possibly Pete Allen
Don Marchant (drums)

Bugle Boy March.mp3  7:55       
Gee, Baby Ain’t I Good to You?.mp3  8:35   
I Want a Little Girl.mp3  7:01 
       (Oxtot vocal; probably Erickson trumpet first chorus.)
Smiles.mp3  6:11 (inc at start)

Janis Joplin
and Frank Goudie

Goudie was taped in 1963 playing clarinet with Janis Joplin in a Dick Oxtot band.  Oxtot had a unique talent for spotting and hiring good female singers.  As with Joplin they were often diamonds in the rough, recruited from the Folk music scene, or destined for success in other genres.

The dates, locations and personnel of the Oxtot-Joplin sessions have long been hazy.  They were taped informally during 1963 and '65 -- at either a cafe, Oxtot's home, or the KPFA studios in Berkeley.  One of her specialties in those days was Bessie Smith’s “Black Mountain Blues” (Scheelar, clarinet).

Clarinet players Goudie and Bill Napier are heard on these sessions.  My informant, Dave Greer was present at parties when Janis sang with the band.  He says Oxtot played cornet, though he soon gave up the horn for banjo, singing and bandleading.
Despite the rawness of her voice Janis had an unmistakable feeling for the blues, and expressive commitment that transcended her technical limitations.  The poignant irony of this original tune, "What Good Can Drinkin’ Do" is that Joplin killed herself with drinking and drugs by age 27.

Eulogy for a Gentleman of Jazz

During his six years on the West Coast Goudie’s musical voice reached full fruition in the second wave of the great Frisco jazz revival.  He found fresh inspiration in his autumnal years with skilled musicians who honored the traditions he’d lived by for decades.

Sometime in late 1963 Frank became very sick, dying of lung cancer January 9, 1964.  There was little note of his passing, except for Richard Hadlock who drew on their personal friendship and interviews to write a sincere eulogy.  

“Big Boy” was a man of many parts.  The full scope of his talents, travels and music remains to be fully charted, from New Orleans to Paris, Rio to Berkeley.  Hopefully this sampling from his final chapter along with a fine new biography will bring due recognition to the colorful life and music of Frank “Big Boy” Goudie.

Today, the big man rests on a gently sloping hillside in a Catholic cemetery near San Francisco. Photo by Dave Radlauer.
Thanks to Holy Cross staff for locating and preparing the site.

The notable musicians below were Frank Big Boy Goudie's friends, 1957-63.

L to R:
Bill Erickson, Dick Oxtot & Barbara Dane

(Photo: Goggin & Oxtot, Jazz Scrapbook)

b. 1927 -

Now in his 80s Hadlock has been a vigorous jazz musician and a successful writer and broadcaster for a half century.  His recollections and resources were vital to reconstructing Big Boy’s story.

When he encountered Goudie in the early 60s, Richard Hadlock was already well accomplished.  He was a clarinet and soprano saxophonist who had studied or worked with Sidney Bechet, Garvin Bushell and Turk Murphy, and a writer who had dabbled in recording, journalism and broadcasting.  Richard wrote the only articles about Goudie ever published in the USA, for the San Francisco Examiner in 1963-64:

"Towering Reedist Goudie. . . ," S.F. Examiner, 7.28.63.pdf

As for playing with Frank, it had to be at Pier 23, during his run with Erickson and [drummer] Jimmy Carter.  We had good sessions there, playing with the famous and the less known.  I jammed with Muggsy Spanier, Darnell Howard, Squire Girsback, Ernie Figueroa, Marty Marsala, Joe Dodge, and many now forgotten.

I played a number of jobs with Amos White, a couple with Darnell, but I don't think Frank was on those. He seemed content with small gigs such as Pier 23.
Ruth and I had him to our house more than once and we both liked him a lot. He was a gracious, sophisticated gentleman of the world.

"Eulogy to a Gentleman of Jazz,"  San Francisco Examiner, Sunday 1.19.64

“Six and a half feet of serenity and home-grown wisdom.
A born gentleman, one of the last of the old school.”
Richard Hadlock, San Francisco Examiner, 1/64

"The waterfront, the generally exotic mixture of the crowd [at Pier 23], the benignly “tough” tone of the place: along with fans of the music, these attracted all sorts of other people, from slumming Peninsula matrons to sailors of all nations and ranks  . . . .

The crowd of players -- and the customers it attracted -- got so large that a complaint was lodged with the [musician’s] union by Kid Ory. Across the Embarcadero from the Pier, Ory had taken over the Tin Angel, renamed it On the Levee, and felt his attendance, especially on week nights, suffering from the partly unpaid competition at the Pier."                                                       
                    -- Jim Leigh

Burt Bales
Pier 23, 1959

Not well known outside San Francisco, classic jazz pianist Burt Bales was among the best heard on the West Coast.  For a couple of years before 1960 Burt and Big Boy were a team at Pier 23 and other San Francisco settings.

Note what appears to be sawdust on the floor.

Ray Skjelbred)


Goudie and Bales at Pier 23, 1961:

Home Grown Blues.mp3 (8:00)
Who's Sorry Now.mp3 (6:55)
Lady Be Good.mp3 (7:15)
Fidgety Feet.mp3 (6:00)
Struttin' With Some Barbecue.mp3

b. 1916 - d. 1989

Recordings of Goudie & Burt Bales at Pier 23 were first released on CD around 1990.  By themselves they left a quite limited picture of Mr. Goudie in San Francisco.  Now that a greater range of his San Francisco music is available, we can appreciate their value documenting the Bales & Goudie partnership at Pier 23.

A spectacular piano player with explosive dynamics, Burt was an incomparable Jelly Roll Morton interpreter who had a formidable left hand -- which I can tell you as someone who heard him.  Since the early-40s Bales had worked with the San Francisco  bands of Lu Watters, Turk Murphy and Bob Scobey, and New Orleans stars Bunk Johnson, Mutt Carey, and Wingie Manone. 

Jazz piano player,
Ray Skjelbred:

I was 18 the first time I saw Burt Bales playing at Pier 23 in San Francisco. There was a small table just to the left of the piano where I could watch his hands, especially the way his left hand and wrist moved back and forth like a gentle sea wave.

It would be several more years before I started playing, but I was getting the idea. I liked the humming, fat sound of 10ths in his left hand. I listened attentively to discover how he made round sounds by the way he touched the keys.

At first I was interested in the Jelly Roll Morton and ragtime compositions that he played, but the biggest repertoire lesson I learned came from his interest in choosing standard ballads to allow his deepest self expression. I remember in the first days hearing songs like “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” and “Darkness on the Delta.”

Tracks from the Album, "On the Waterfront," c. 1955

King Porter Stomp.mp3
Darkness on the Delta.mp3
Sweet Savannah Sue.mp3
Mr. Jelly Lord.mp3

[Pier 23 owner] Havelock Jerome doubtless made some money from it, but nobody else did, certainly not Erickson, who was apparently quite comfortable with his hand-to-mouth existence.  It was never a case of the money not mattering: Erickson lived from it, Goudie and [drummer] Carter relied on it, and when I occasionally happened to get paid for a night or two I never turned it down. 

But the music, and the mostly pleasant company of those gathered to play it, were the point, and that’s all there was to it.
Jim Leigh, Heaven on the Side, 2000    

Numerous illnesses and misfortunes left Bales a wreck. 

When I encountered him the late 80s he was a shrunken gnome in wool stocking cap. He seemed cranky, unsteady on his feet and eccentric. 

But he ALWAYS made superlative music.

Pier 23 and music archive, here.

piano and trumpet player

Bill Erickson inherited Bales’ gig at Pier 23, and the partnership with Goudie. 

He engaged Big Boy in other bands including two broadcasts of Estuary Jazz Band from
Pier 23, and the lengthy Monkey Inn gig in Berkeley. 

His performances on the Estuary Jazz Band broadcasts and recordings of the 1950s demonstrate that he was also a fine trumpet player.

Photo by William Carter,
Courtesy Earl Scheelar

Bill Erickson

Bill Erickson and Frank began working together regularly when Erickson replaced Bales for a while at Pier 23.  Stylistically the jam sessions ranged from New Orleans revival, to Kansas City, to 52nd Street swing including a wide range of local and visiting talent.  

During 1961-62 at Monkey Inn, a casual and sometimes rough beer and pizza joint in Berkeley, Goudie joined Erickson (piano), trombonist Bob Mielke and New Orleans-born drummer Jimmy Carter in a Thursday night combo.  Frank was free to stretch out on long expressive solos with purpose and direction.  It’s the most detailed pickup we have of his clarinet, an intimate portrait of a mature artist willing and able to solo indefinitely, his expressive variations opening like blossoms.


Bill Erickson Quartet/Quintet,
Monkey Inn, Berkeley, CA c. 1961-62

Goudie, Mielke,
(trumpet added in Quintet), Erickson and James Carter or Don Marchant, drums

Joseph, Joseph - Quartet.mp3 6:25
Joseph, Joseph - Quintet.mp3 7:10
I've Found a New Baby - Quintet.mp3 7:30
Careless Love - Quintet.mp3

(Thanks to Richard Hadlock and Bob Mielke.)
More Monkey Inn tapes, here

Bill Erickson
b. 3.25.29 - d. 1967

The Erickson Quartet of Goudie, trombonist Mielke, usually drummer Jimmy Carter, and sometimes a trumpeter (now unknown) played at the Monkey Inn during 1961-62, possibly longer.  Bill had two piano modes, as Bob Mielke explained:  “He had two manners of playing.  One was when a bass player is present in the group.  That was kind of a light, Teddy Wilson sort of style.  But if there were no bass player, then he came on like gangbusters with a strong left hand.  He was trying to be a real rhythm section unto himself.”

More about Erickson, and an archive of his music, here.

Jerry Blumberg is not the horn player on the Bill Erickson Quintet Monkey Inn tapes of 1961-62, contrary to Bob Mielke’s recollection and notations on the tape reel boxes. 

Blumberg was not in the Bay Area when this series of recordings began, and the notations in pencil on the Monkey Inn tape boxes regarding personnel might not be contemporaneous, but added later when the tapes were in the possession of collector Bill Raynolds.

Suggestions regarding who this horn player might be include: RCH Smith, Eddie Smith, Ted Butterman or Jack Minger. 

Trumpet player Byron Berry has been suggested by several including Blumberg.  But my careful audition of contemporaneous Berry tapes leads me to reject this candidate.

Bob Mielke

Its possible that in about 1958 Mielke was the first Bay Area bandleader to hire Goudie, for his Bearcats band.  They worked together in a half-dozen ensembles including the outstanding Estuary Jazz Band broadcasts.

(Photo courtesy:
Bob Mielke)

TRANSCRIPT OF BOB MIELKE (trombone) phone interview regarding Frank Goudie, taped at KALW-FM, San Francisco, CA, 8.9.93.pdf


TRANSCRIPT of Bob Mielke (trombone) phone interview pdf
regarding Frank Goudie, taped at KALW-FM, San Francisco, CA, 8.9.93
NEWLY AVAILABLE Monkey Inn tapes featuring Goudie, here. 


Bob Mielke
b. 1926 -

Now retired, Mielke was a superb musician.  His versatile trombone sound ranged from Kid Ory's New Orleans tailgate style, to the Harlem swing of J.C. Higginbotham.  By the late 50s he’d worked or recorded with Sidney Bechet, Bob Scobey, Muggsy Spanier, George Lewis, Bob Wilbur and a half-dozen West Coast jazz bands. 

During their weekly gigs at the Monkey Inn during 1961-62, Mielke came to know Goudie pretty well.  I once asked Bob if having an African-American musician from New Orleans in his band had been a feather in his cap.  His reply was that he valued Goudie’s depth of musical skill and ability to play his part in a New Orleans-style ensemble most of all.

More of Bob Mielke and music archive, here.

Bob Mielke's Bearcats, 1954-58:

Milenberg Joys.mp3
Creole Song.mp3


Bob Mielke recalls Goudie, interview excerpts KALW-FM, 8/93:
Mielke on Goudie_1 Monkey Inn.mp3
Mielke on Goudie_2 Bill Erickson, James Carter, Pier 23.mp3
Mielke on Goudie_3_Oxtot & Bales.mp3
Mielke on Goudie_4_Upholstery trade, clarinet tone.mp3
Mielke on Goudie_5_musical knowledge, solfege.mp3
Mielke on Goudie_6_Parisian manner, supportive.mp3


Goudie played frequently with trombone player Jim Leigh who wrote eloquently about Goudie and that era.

Leigh is far left with his mid-Fifties El Dorado Jazz Band. 

(Photo: Courtesy, Trad Jazz Productions)

Jim Leigh played with many Bay Area musicians including Goudie whom he wrote about in his notable memoir, Heaven on the Side, 2000.  Leigh ran the original El Dorado Jazz Band in the mid-late 1950s But a few years later around 1960, he was playing in a subsequent version of the band with Goudie. 

Some of those recordings have been preserved and are available from Trad Jazz Productions.  They show Goudie with a New Orleans-style ensemble of Jim Borkenhagen (trumpet), Jim Leigh (trombone), Danny Reudger (banjo), Squire Girsback (bass) and singer Carol Leigh.


Frank Goudie with El Dorado Jazz Band (under the direction of Jim Leigh)

These archival performances are notable for showing Goudie in a New Orleans revival setting.  He demonstrates an ability to both support the ensemble with polyphonic counter melody or easily sustain lengthy improvised solos with clear purpose and stately ease. 

Mel’s Palm Bowl 1960
Goudie, clarinet
Jim Borkenhagen, trumpet
Jim Leigh, trombone
Dan Ruedger, banjo & vocals
Squire Girsback, bass
Lindsey Greene, drums

When You and I Were Young, Maggie.mp3
All the Girls.mp3
Bourbon Street Parade.mp3
Dallas Blues.mp3 vocal Danny Ruedger
Alky Blues.mp3 vocal Danny Ruedger

Pete’s Chicago Club 6.19.60
same front line plus:
Pete Fay [?]
Bill Carroll, bass
Greg Cabibi, drums

Shake That Thing.mp3 vocal Danny Ruedger

(Courtesy of and special thanks to the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation.
Personnel based on available data.)

b. 1925 - d. 2011

A fine Bay Area trombone player for decades, Bardin played with Goudie.

Bardin Recalls Goudie.mp3

More about Bardin, here

(Photo: Mili Bardin-Rosenblatt)

b. 1934 -

Despite being 'competition' he played a few duets with Big Boy.  Like all musicians who recalled Goudie for me he noted his "personable, warm and friendly" manner.

(Photo: Richard Ressman, 2007)

Dick Oxtot
b. 1918 - d. 2001

Goudie played quite a bit of jazz with Dick Oxtot: in Oxtot's bands, Mielke's Bearcats, parties, gigs, including jam sessions at Nod's Taproom, Pier 23, The Bagatelle and Berkeley Jazz house among others.

Dick Oxtot with Bob Mielke's Bearcats

Recorded at: Sail 'N club, Lark's Club, Jenny Lind Hall, 1954-58

Classic Oxtot vocals:
My Lovin' Imogene.mp3 (composed by Oxtot)
I'm Satisfied with my Gal.mp3
That's My Weakness Now.mp3
There's Yes, Yes, in Your Eyes.mp3
Corrine, Corrina.mp3
My Baby Don't Mean Maybe Now.mp3

Frank Goudie with Oxtot and Bob Mielke's Bearcats at an East Bay dance hall, Pioneer Village, c. 1958

L to R:
Goudie, Mielke,
P.T. Stanton,
Allen, Oxtot. 

Pioneer Village,
East Bay, c. 1958.

Bob Mielke collection
Recovered contact print


Main Goudie page

Frank Goudie's Paris

Pt. 3 SF & New Orleans Roots, here

Goudie at the Berkeley Jazz house sessions

Goudie with Byron Berry at Nods Taproom, here

Goudie with Bill Erickson ensembles, here

Goudie at Monkey Inn, here

Goudie at The Bagatelle, here

Goudie at Pier 23, here

Goudie with P.T. Stanton, here

Goudie with Dick Oxtot

Goudie trilogy at Syncopated Times:

Goudie Pt. 1 - Paris, 1924-39

Goudie Pt. 2 - South America 1939-46 and Europe 1946-56
Goudie Pt. 3 - San Francisco 1956-64     



Bardin, Bill (trombone) 11/94 (with Carter)

Carter, Bill (clarinet) 11/94 (with Bardin), 5/13

Dane, Barbara (vocal 5/13)

Greer, Dave (tape recordist, observer) 11/13

Hadlock, Richard (clarinet, soprano sax) 5/13, 8/13

Leigh, Carol (vocal) 6/13

Mielke, Bob (trombone) 1/93, 8/93, 5/13, 9/13, 11/13

Scheelar, Earl (cornet, clarinet, banjo) 5/13

Tyle, Chris (trumpet and reeds: commentary on

Goudie’s trumpet style) 8/13

Other sources:

Bales, Burt, Burt Bales, GHB Records BCD-13, 1992

Eckland, K.O., Jazz West 2, The A-Z Guide to West Coast Jazz Music, Donna Ewald, 1995

Goudie, Frank, Frank "Big Boy" Goudie with Amos White, American Music AMCD-50, 1991

Hadlock, Richard, “The Towering Reedist Goudie: Clarinettist 'Home' After Years Abroad with Top Bands,” San Francisco Examiner, July 28, 1963

Hadlock, Richard, “Euology to a Gentleman of Jazz,” San Francisco Examiner, January 19, 1964
Leigh, Jim, Heaven on the Side: A Jazz Life, self published, 2000

Oxtot, Dick and Goggin, Jim, Jazz Scrapbook, Creative Arts Book Co, 1999

Watkins, Earl and Goggin, Jim, Earl Watkins: The Life of a Jazz Drummer, Trafford Publishing, 2005

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