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Lessly "Count" Fisher

Band leader, nightclub owner, and police chief Lessly “Count” Fisher was born on August 19, 1923 in Canton, Mississippi to Ruby Mosby Fisher and future steelworker Seaser Fisher. Fisher was given the nickname of “Count” by Count Basie. He grew up in the New Edition section of East Chicago, Indiana and attended Calumet Elementary School, Garfield Elementary School, and Columbus School, Fisher graduated from Washington High School in 1941. An accident in the steel mill inspired him to join his cousin, Wallace Hayes playing drums for the Nightsteppers. Fisher, along with childhood friend Jack McDuff, learned to read music from Jesse Evans while working as driver and bodyguard for entertainment businessman, Jake Brennan.

Touring the Midwest, Fisher’s band also included Schoolboy Porter, Johnny Mott, Bill Lane and Aretta Lamar. In 1951, he met and toured several cities with singer Eve Rene. Later reunited with Rene, they played Indianapolis’ Joy Lounge and the Hubbub. Fisher married Eve Rene and established the Carousel Club in the late 1950s. Over the years, they featured The Hampton Family, Rodney Dangerfield, June Christie, Leroy Vinegar, Freddie Hubbard, George Kirby, Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, John Coltrane and James Brown. The Fishers also participated in muscular dystrophy telethons with Lorne Greene. From 1963 to 1965, the couple operated the Chateau de Count et Eve near the Indiana State Capitol. There, they showcased Roy Hamilton, Lula Reed and Motown acts along with many other names.

In 1966, Fisher and Eve Rene moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and performed at the London House as the house band. Eventually, Fisher moved away from show business and took a job as Sheriff’s Deputy for Kent County, Michigan. He was also Idlewild, Michigan’s first chief of police. Fisher and wife, Eve, a retired civil servant, lived in Grand Rapids. Their son, Rodney, is a musician who once portrayed Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic.

Lessly "Count" Fisher was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 10, 2007.

Fisher passed away on November 22, 2015.

Accession Number

A2007.082

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/10/2007

Last Name

Fisher

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Count

Schools

Washington High School

Calumet Elementary School

Garfield Elementary School

Columbus School

First Name

Lessley

Birth City, State, Country

Canton

HM ID

FIS01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hammond, Indiana, Austin, Texas

Favorite Quote

Let There Be Light, And There Was Light.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

8/19/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Grand Rapids

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/22/2015

Short Description

Nightclub owner, police chief, and bandleader Lessly "Count" Fisher (1923 - 2015 ) owned The Carousel Club nightclub where such acts as Redd Foxx, Rodney Dangerfield, and John Coltrane performed.

Employment

Carousel Club

Chateau de Conte et Eve

Kent County (Mich.)

Idlewild Police Department

Favorite Color

None

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lessly "Count" Fisher's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes the racial discrimination in Canton, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his father's escape from Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his father's move to Calumet, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his parents' education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers working at the Inland Steel Company

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his childhood pastimes

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes the New Addition gang in East Chicago, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls the radio programs of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers Joe Louis and Jack Johnson

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes the influence of his teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers graduating from Washington High School in East Chicago, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his experiences in fights

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers wrestling at Washington High School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers his early musical career

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers working for Jake Brenneman

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers performing in nightclubs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls being hired by Jake Brenneman

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his early career

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers his fellow musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher talks about touring as a musician

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lessly "Count" Fisher talks about contemporary music

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his income as a musician

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls how he met his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls purchasing a nightclub in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers the entertainment at his nightclub

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers his nightclub's patrons

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers the rules at his nightclub

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers hiring John Coltrane and Elvin Jones

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls being cheated by a bartender

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers selling the Chateau de Count et Eve nightclub

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers joining the police department

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his business ventures in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls becoming the chief of police in Lake County, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lessly "Count" Fisher recalls his career as the chief of police in Idlewild, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his retirement

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Lessly "Count" Fisher reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lessly "Count" Fisher reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers raising his children

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lessly "Count" Fisher describes his hopes for the world

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lessly "Count" Fisher narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Lessly "Count" Fisher talks about contemporary music
Lessly "Count" Fisher remembers joining the police department
Transcript
Now did you have a chance to cut any records or anything?$$No. I had a chance but I didn't cut 'em.$$Okay. Why not?$$I don't--crazy. Just like my wife [HistoryMaker Lois Fisher] should've been cut. If she had've been cut, she'd been on top right now. You ought to hear her, she's tough. She's one of the finest singers in the country right now. Well, right now she is the finest, 'cause all these little funky singers that thinking they singers, and I hope you print this, all them people that think they are musicians ain't nothing today. They can't read, they can't sang, they talk, they rap, they talk bull, they make--they talk the wrong sentences, they say the nastiest things on records today. They ain't got no voice, they holler. And how they make that much money I don't know. And you can quote Count Fisher [HistoryMaker Lessly "Count" Fisher] for saying that.$$Well, now, okay. Well--$$And if they don't like it, come see me.$I know you did some, did some music gigs around here [Grand Rapids, Michigan] as well, but you ended up joining the police department. How did that happen?$$Was working--$$Was it a sheriff's department (unclear) (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Sheriff's department.$$Sherriff's department.$$I was working in--I don't know--downtown, was working one of the clubs and the boss of the friend of the court frequented the place I worked. He was a singer and he liked what we was playing, and he asked me one night to let him sing. I said, "Come on, you know." I let anybody, you know, if you can do it. He sang, and he sang pretty good. So he started coming in and started to singing and he liked to sing. He started coming one night and then he coming two nights, then he started to coming in three nights a week. So one night, walked up to me and was talking, and he said, "How'd you like to be policeman?" And I laughed at-"What the hell you talking 'bout?" What's his name--Bill Rowe [ph.]. I said, "What you talking 'bout, Bill?" He said, "How you--I think you'd make a good cop." I said, "Man, you got to be silly." He said, "Well, you think about it." He started to singing, you know. So, a couple more nights he come back, he said, "Count Fisher [HistoryMaker Lessly "Count" Fisher]," he said, "I'd like for you to be one of my deputies." I said, "What you mean one of your deputies?" (Laughter) And he told me who he was. "Oh, man, you kidding?" I said, "Well, let me talk to my wife [HistoryMaker Lois Fisher]," I'm kidding. So I went and talked to her. She say, "Well, baby, you working three or four nights a week, and it wouldn't hurt if he let you, you know, play music. See, we need the money." I said, "Hey, I never thought about it but all right." She said, "You like to fight." She said, "You know." I say, "Yeah, okay." So I talked to him. He said, "Well, you be in my office tomorrow morning." No, no, take that back. He said, "When you get off I'll wait for you. I wanna show you something." I said okay. So me and my wife we went--he took us downtown, took us upstairs to his office and he said, "This is my office." He said, "You'll be working right there." I said, "What will I be doing?" He said, "Well, it's according if you pass my test--pass the test."$$Exam, yeah.$$I said, okay. So, well, you know, I love challenges I told you that. So, I said, "Okay, I'll be down here tomorrow." I went down there and took the test. The man called and told him so he called me. No, he come by the club. He said, "Damn," he said, "look at your score." He said, "You got a scholastical average that kind of score?" "I don't know." He said, "You can be a detective out there." "I don't know 'bout that." He said, "Come to my office tomorrow." I said, "'Bout what time?" He said, "Be there at nine o'clock. Can you be there?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Can you get up that early?" I said, "Yeah." So I got up 'bout seven o'clock, took my bath, went downtown. He said, "You come to work? Come to get a job." No, he said, "You come to get a job?" I said, "Well, what you got?" He showed me the papers and things. And he said, "This how much you'll be making." I said, "Damn, that all?" I said, "What I got to do?" "You got to go out and get people, I'll put you with a partner for two weeks. If your partner say you make it, you'll be on your own and you'll get a raise." I say, "Okay, we'll try it." "Here's your badge." I said, "Already?" He said, "Here's your badge, here's your permit, gun permit." I said, "I carry a gun?" He say, "Yeah, you go to the shooting range tomorrow." He say, "I'll have Pat [ph.]," which was my partner, he's going now too. He say, "I'll have Pat take you out on the shooting range." I say, "All right." And I was, you know, I was playing with it. Hell, then I got to liking the thing, man. And after two week I went by myself. There it is.$$What kind of experiences did you have as a sheriff's deputy here?$$None.$$No?$$No, I was a musician.$$Okay.$$(Laughter) I didn't have no kind of experience. That's what--everybody laughed at when I call the boys back home, they call me a liar. When I call my boys, when I call back home and told 'em I'm a police, a deputy sheriff, they--"You lie. How in the hell you got to be a deputy as much as you fight?" You know. But I was a deputy. I stayed with them, I don't know how--'til I retired I guess.