Charles E. Blackwell, 78, bartender, jazz enthusiast

September 03, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

An obituary of Charles Edward Blackwell in Thursday's editions described jazz legend Ruby Glover incorrectly. Glover is still performing.

The Sun regrets the error.

When it came to settling arguments concerning jazz and its history, Charles Edward Blackwell usually had the final word.

Mr. Blackwell, who died Monday of heart failure at his West Baltimore home, had collected jazz recordings nearly all of his life and had a vast collection of records. He was 78.

As the longtime manager and bartender at the old 3 P's Bar in East Baltimore and later Maceo's Lounge on the west side, "Mr. B." decided many pressing disputes about jazz.


"He could tell you who played with who and who their drummer was at first and who the later drummer was," said Joe Chapman, owner of Maceo's Lounge and a friend of Mr. Blackwell's for more than 50 years.

Mr. Blackwell managed 3 P's from the late 1960s until the mid-1970s, when he switched to Maceo's Lounge. There, he developed a devoted and regular clientele, which included the late jazz legends Eubie Blake and Ruby Glover.

Jazz always played while he worked, and he was usually at the center of most conversations.

"When you mention Maceo's, you think of Mr. B.," said Bernard Smith, another longtime friend. "He didn't only know about jazz, he knew about black history, military history and he was an excellent pig foot cooker."

In 1982, he was voted Best Bartender in Baltimore by the Afro-American newspaper.

A Baltimore native, Mr. Blackwell graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1938 and attended the former Morgan State College and the old Cortez Peters Business School in Baltimore.

He had a husky voice and stood barely 5 feet tall. Despite his size, he played football at Douglass and wanted to play at Morgan State, but was told he was too small.

He served in the Army from 1944 to 1945. Years after his discharge, he worked as a traffic manager and transportation officer for the U.S. Coast Guard at the Curtis Bay yards.

He had recently donated his jazz collection and African-American history books to Sojourner-Douglass College in East Baltimore.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Edwards Roman Catholic Church, 901 Poplar Grove St.

He is survived by his wife, the former Blanche Lievers whom he married in 1959; five sons, Charles E. Blackwell Jr., Leo Blackwell, Maurice Blackwell and Dale Blackwell, all of Baltimore, and Wayland Blackwell of Columbus, Ohio; five daughters, fTC Wendy Blackwell, Nancy Pleasant, Sandra Stephenson and Faye Tripp, all of Baltimore, and Carolyn Lievers of Denver; two brothers, James Harvey Blackwell of Baltimore and Ronald Blackwell of New York; a sister, Barbara Gant of New York; 14 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 9/03/98

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