Slack also made a number of well-regarded instrumental recordings, such as Riffette, Small Batch o'Nod, and Cuban Sugar Mill.
Musicians who worked with his band included, at various times, Manny Klein and Clyde Hurley (trumpets), Bruce Squires (trombone), Barney Bigard (clarinet/tenor saxophone), Les Baxter (saxophone), Jud DeNaut (bass), and Bob Bain (guitar).
Slack disbanded in the late 1940s.
Subsequently, he often performed in various nightclubs and cocktail lounges around the San Fernando Valley, but his appearances in later years were, according to Down Beat, "limited by attacks of diabetes."
In 1955, Slack recorded an album for EmArcy, "Boogie Woogie On the 88," which included his own swinging vocals on Pig Foot Pete and Rhumboogie, and appeared on a 1960 NBC-TV special, "The Singin' Swingin' Years," reprising his role as bandleader for Morse to do Cow-Cow Boogie.
Most of Slack's Capitol recordings, including 17 previously-unissued sides, were collected in a 3-CD Mosaic "Select" set in 2005.
given name Frederick Charles Slack
birth Aug. 7, 1910, Viroqua, WI
death Aug. 10, 1965, Hollywood, CA, "probably . . . from natural causes"
training American Conservatory of Music, Chicago, 1927
first wife Sue, div.1945
second wife Joan [ sic ] Greer, a singer, m.Apr. 12, 1950, div.1951
third wife June Teecher Slack, an attorney
Unfortunately, he seems to have had a rocky personal life.
Slack's first wife sued him for allegedly falling behind in alimony payments. His second wife claimed he was abusive. And his third marriage was also unsuccessful.
Further, in 1955, he was charged with drunk driving when he ran a red light in Pasadena, CA, and in 1958 was thrown in jail after he used "salty language in the prescence of women" at a Malibu, CA cafe.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Slack's body was found a few days after his 55th birthday in August 1965 by the landlady of his apartment, Mrs. Mary Coyle, who observed him through a window, apparently unconscious, and called police.
"Bandleader Freddie Slack Divorced by Singer Wife," Los Angeles Times, Jul. 25, 1951,
"'Five-By-Five' Freddie Slack Is Found Dead," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 11, 1965, p.C10.
"Freddie Slack, Band Leader, Sued for Alimony," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 23, 1946, p.A3.
"Freddie Slack on Trial; Wife Out as His Attorney," Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1955, p.36.
"Pianist-Bandleader Freddie Slack Dies," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 11, 1965, p.A8.
"Pianist Freddie Slack Found Dead in Hollywood Home," Down Beat, Sept. 23, 1965, p.17.
"Salty Talk Puts Freddie Slack in Jail," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 25, 1958, p.B1.
Joel Whitburn, Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music
(Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research Inc., 1986), pp.394-395.
I would like to expand this tribute, if possible, with a new interview of someone who was important to Freddie Slack's life and career. Are you an alumnus of his band, a member of his family, or a collector who is knowledgeable about his accomplishments? Please contact me via e-mail