Webb, (William Henry) “Chick”(1909–39) musician; born in Baltimore, Md. A hunchback from birth, he was a highly acclaimed drummer who began playing on Chesapeake Bay pleasure steamers with the Jazzola Orchestra in 1924. Moving to New York City, he was a sideman with Edgar Dowell in 1925, then formed his own combo in 1926. He gradually developed a big band while playing in Harlem nightclubs during the late 1920s and early 1930s. In 1931, he began playing long regular seasons at the Savoy Ballroom, a venue with which his name was virtually synonymous during the swing era. In 1935, he introduced his vocalist, Ella Fitzgerald, who assumed leadership of the band upon his death from tuberculosis of the spine.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.