In the 1940s, the depth of talent among black variety arts — black vaudeville, if you will — was indeed astonishing. Two performers who were very popular during this period, yet virtually unknown today, are Patterson an Jackson. Warren Patterson (born 1920) and Al (actually Augustus) Jackson (born 1918) were rotund dancers/comedians, each weighing close to 300 pounds, if one chooses to believe the publicity. Despite their weight, Patterson and Jackson were nimble dancers and fine vocalists, and they entertained together for almost fifteen years.
The duo began performing together in Detroit in 1942, and they were an immediate success at the 3 Trees nightclub. In September they joined Earl Hines and his Orchestra. This gig was followed by an engagement with Duke Ellington at the Cafe Zanzibar in Manhattan, then on tour with Dizzy Gillespie in the ill-conceived HEPSATIONS OF 1945 revue.
Patterson and Jackson appear in three SOUNDIES produced during the period of the recording ban, and slightly later were prominently featured in the black cast film BOY! WHAT A GIRL. The team worked together until the mid 1950s, appearing at the Apollo Theater in May 1956 with The Clovers and Pee Wee Crayton; at this time they had added two performers, Alex Sharp and one unknown, and were billed as the 4 Fat Men.
Part of the team’s routine was a send-up of the Ink Spots, in this case their hit “Do I Worry?” In this SOUNDIE, after a quick-paced dance routine, Al Patterson introduces Warren Jackson, who presents his imitation of the Ink Spots, including the tenor lead by Bill Kenny and Deek Watson, and the “talking vocal” by Hoppy Jones.