I’ve got an article in the latest Casino Connection about drumming legend Chris Columbo, who never gave up on Atlantic City:
Atlantic City’s always been known for its entertainment, and for more than seven decades, one man helped the beat go on. From the Jazz Age to the 1990s, Joseph Chris Columbus Morris was one of the music industry’s top drummers.
Born in 1902, Morris usually performed under the name Chris Columbo. When he moved here at the age of 9, Atlantic City was filled with hardship as well as opportunity; rampant racial segregation and low wages made the town a “slave market,” Columbo said in a 1978 interview for the Atlantic City Free Public Library’s Living History Project.
After attending local schools including the Indiana Avenue School, Columbo worked odd jobs before finding full-time work as a drummer. He played his first gig on Steel Pier in 1921 with swing bandleader Fletcher Henderson. After that job, he never looked back.
I was lucky enough to get to know Chris in the late 1980s/early 1990s–I used to go up to the Showboat, catch a set of his band and talk to him about all sorts of things. He taught me a great deal. I used to say that he was the great-grandfather I never had.