1. See Mr. Bojangles for the reference to the great dancer Bill Robinson.
2. Again without the hypen, and to correct other definitions here, the song "Mr. Bojangles" was written by Jerry Jeff Walker, and covered most successfully by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1971. The song is not in reference to Bill Robinson, nor is it in reference New Orleans blues musician Babe Stovall.
According to Walker, a murder on the 4th July weekend of 1965 precipitated the arrest of all the street people in the area. In the crowded cell, a disheveled homeless old man began to talk to Walker who had been arrested earlier for drunkenness. The man told various stories of his life but the tone darkened after 'Mr. Bo-jangles' recalled his dog who'd been run over. Someone then asked for something to lighten the mood and the man obliged with a tap dance.
Walker mentions that all the men in the cell had nicknames to prevent easy identification by the police. The dancer's nickname was 'Mr. Bojangles.' In his autobiography 'Gypsy Songman,' Walker makes it clear the man he met was white. Further, in an interview with BBC Radio 4 in August 2008 he pointed out that, at the time, the jail cells in New Orleans were segregated along color lines.
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