In a recent op-ed, Scott Black writes that he never had a chance, "after a brief phone call," to fact check my book, Finding Bix.
I interviewed Black in 2007 for more than two hours and he's actually in the book. Over two chapters, he is quoted (accurately) doing precisely the sort of fact-checking he seems to think is missing. Records were not "sent home by Bix that were stuffed into a closet and never opened," he notes. But right there on page 171 of Finding Bix is Black saying, "And the story about the records in the closet? Never happened. It's just all b.s."
Black writes that "Bix was never shunned by his family, nor was he ever 'banished' from Davenport," strongly implying that my book argues otherwise. And yet on page 132 I suggest the opposite, noting that perhaps Bix's parents sent him away in an attempt to be supportive. "Sudhalter and Berton label it banishment," I write, "but others might describe it as simple, by-the-books parenting, an attempt by the Beiderbeckes to separate their son from the destructive influences of jazz and alcohol and to shield him from gossip and bigots."
Black writes that Bix's "family adored him and listened faithfully whenever he was on the radio." On page 122, I note how the local newspaper wrote about Bix's mother tuning in to his concerts, adding, "Does that sound like a mother who had banished her son, who cared not whether he lived or died?"
One could go on. The bottom line is that I think readers deserve a fairer description of Finding Bix than they have yet received in these pages.
Editor's note: Wolfe is author of Finding Bix.