Butterbeans and Susie were a husband and wife double-act who took their vaudeville revue around the Southern circuit and the big cities for many decades. With Susie as the overbearing but frustrated wife and Butterbeans as the inadequate but wise-cracking husband, they combined the hilarity of their skits on domestic life with Blues songs laced with sexual innuendo. Too raunchy to get much exposure with white audiences, they were a household name in the African-American community. They made dozens of records back in the 20s, when steamy ‘hokum‘ Blues had a period of popularity, and they cut their final sessions in 1960.
Jody ‘Butterbeans’ Edwards and Susie Hawthorn were both successful solo performers who got married on-stage in 1916 and began developing their double-act. They became well established on the TOBA circuit which booked black acts into theatres in both big cities and small towns across the South. The universal themes in their revues appealed to both rural and urban audiences and when they signed to the Okeh label, their records sold very well. They recorded the earthy ‘He Likes It Slow’ with Louis Armstrong in 1926, and their most famous numbers were ‘I Want a Hot-Dog for My Roll’ and ‘Elevator Papa, Switchboard Mama’, both drenched in sexual innuendo.
‘Elevator Papa, Switchboard Mama’;
Butterbeans and Susie Discography
This CD has the 1960 sessions and many interviews about their long-running stage act, and how it mirrored the African American community. This is pretty non-PC material, with its references to sexual practices and domestic violence, but some of it is very funny too!
BUTTERBEANS AND SUSIE
When the economic Depression of the 30s destroyed record sales, Butterbeans and Susie continued playing the clubs and theatres. The same basic stage act saw them through the 40s and 50s, with songs updated to appeal to new audiences, playing the industrial cities of the North and remaining popular all over the South. In 1960, they recorded an album of their favourite numbers but, sadly, Susie passed away in 1963 and ‘Butterbeans’ followed her four years later.