The second Madison recording to be released in the late 1950s was by The Ray Bryant Combo and called The Madison Time. The album recorded by American jazz pianist Ray Bryant was recorded in 1959 and 1960 for the Columbia label. The album was released following the success of the Madison dance craze single “The Madison Time” which reached number 30 on the Billboard chart and number 5 on the R&B chart.

This recording featuring the Ray Bryant Combo came about when local radio disc jockey, Eddie Morrison, began doing calls on a whim over jazz records he played on the air. Listeners begged for more, and eventually Morrison was offered a recording deal with Ray Bryant and his New York Jazz Band. The tune sold 10,000 copies in the Baltimore area in its first week. This version of the Madison (The Madison Time) soon became the favorite choice of dancers nationwide.

“The appeal of the dance stemmed from it’s many variations, such as the “Jackie Gleason,” which imitates a shuffle performed by the comedian, or the “Wilt Chamberlain hook,” which calls for the dancer to stylishly dribble and shoot a basketball. These variations often poked fun at popular figures in the era, providing amusement for the dancers and a certain prestige for the caller. But perhaps it was the genius marketing strategies of Columbia’s Baltimore based manager Victor “Chuck” Gregory who recruited two nimble teenagers from the Buddy Deane show (Joan Darby & Jonas “Joe” Cash) to go on a teen shows tour of the East Coast and Mid-West demonstrating the dance steps…

Today, the Madison continues to make cameo appearances, coincidentally to witness Jackie Gleason’s shuffle on Broadway, as the dance was featured in the musical revival of the 1980s movie, Hairspray. The Madison also remains a popular line dance on the social floor where its variations may be enjoyed by new dancers and revisited by those who remember its heyday.”
Excerpts from The Definitive Madison DVD (Researched, Written &  Produced by Paolo Lanna 2006)

Special Thanks to Linda Snyder (committee member from the Buddy Deane Show) who shares many stories from the TV show, Richard Powers who provided the amazing photo from the set of the Buddy Dean Show,  and Lance Benishek (dance historian) who provided some ample questions and motivation when we began researching this dance in 2005.

The Definitive Madison Download

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