1967: Jack Carter escapes Detroit riots

From the Army Archerd Archive

July 26, 1967

GOOD MORNING: Jack Carter’s escape from riot torn Detroit sounds like a script — but unhappily, it’s non-fiction. He was due to bow at the Roostertail, Monday, but it was obvious early in the day, the show didn’t have to go on. The nitery’s bosses called Carter and arranged his escape (literally) from the heart of town by sending their boat to pick up Carter at a dock four blocks from the Sheraton-Cadillac. “I just grabbed my briefcase — with music cues, in case I’d pick up a club date on the way — and left all my clothes. I ran out a back door to the dock. It was chaos there.” … (2008 Update: After five days of violence, 43 people lay dead, 1,189 injured and more than 7,000 people had been arrested. The demographics in Detroit changed forever.

Berry Gordy recalls, “Although we came from a different milieu” — he and his performers came to the healing front with “Motown Mondays” at the Roostertail’s stage. Performing at the Roostertail were Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles — and Berry’s first white female singer, Chris Clark. Berry has retained friendships with the Roostertail Complex’s Thomas Schoenith, whose father built the club, now about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. While no longer booking performers, the Roostertail is now home to more than one-third of the proms in Southeastern Detroit — plus weddings, etc. …

Tony Bennett, in L.A. for the Grammys, told me when he was playing the Roostertail in its halcyon days, a 15-year-old Ron Miller introduced him to his song, “For Once in My Life.” Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra and others followed Bennett’s intro of the song. … Over the decades, Jack Carter, 85, has played every top club around the country and every hotel in Las Vegas. He recently returned from again playing the circuit of retirement condos in Florida. He laughed, “It’s where you entertain old people’s parents.”)

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