In 1995, the City of Duarte, California, kicked off its first Route 66 Parade, Car Show, and Community Picnic. It was the start of a tradition that will celebrate its 15th anniversary later this year in September.
We were at that first parade and I remember that they had the perfect grand marshal. Bobby Troup was waving to the gathered crowds from the rear deck of a classic automobile, beaming with pride over the legend he helped create.
Mr. Troup is the man responsible for the immortal song, Route 66. Who doesn't want to get their kicks on this historic stretch of asphault? Troup spent World War II in the Marine Corp and was the first white commander of a Black unit in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The men were living in tents. Troup organized them to build new quarters out of quonset huts, a nightclub, and a basketball court. This unit soon became the "in" place to hang out on base.
After the war, Troup came out west to make his way in Hollywood. His route? I think you know. The song came out of that trip with Troup paying homage not only to the road, but to the quirky destinations along the way.
Sadly, Bobby passed on a few years after his turn as the inaugural grand marshall in February of 1999 but his music lives on.
Route 66 has been covered by many musicians. Nat King Cole, The Rolling Stones, John Mayer, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Mel Torme are just a few of the dozens of big names to sing it. This week, we're giving you a two-fer. First is the song by the man himself, Bobby Troup singing it on his wife Julie London's variety show: