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Guide to the Troyce Key Papers
MS 83  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Troyce Key papers
    Dates: circa 1920s-1997 (b. 1958-1992)
    Collection number: MS 83
    Creator: Key, Troyce.
    Collection Size: 3.5 linear feet (8 boxes + 1 oversized box)
    Repository: African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: The Troyce Key papers include correspondence, photographs, financial records, flyers, publicity material, and publications documenting the musical career of blues musician and nightclub owner Troyce Key. The papers are organized in to four series: Eli Mile High Records, Eli’s Mile High Club & Restaurant records, photographs, and assorted material.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Access

    No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish from the Troyce Key Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Troyce Key papers, MS 83, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sean Heyliger, 11/14/2013.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Blues musician and night club owner Troyce Key (1937-1992) was born on September 7, 1937 in Jordon Plantation, Louisiana to Verdell and Lula May Key. In 1938, the Key family decided to move to Oregon but only made to Bakersfield, California after they ran out of gasoline and money. The family stayed in California and worked as migrant workers picking cotton and grapes and eventually settling in Fresno, California where Troyce Key attended various schools. His father played the guitar and harmonica and often sang at local house parties. Troyce Key began playing guitar as a teenager and began touring throughout California in 1956 and eventually joined The Campus Kings . In 1958, he traveled to Hollywood with a demo tape and signed a record contract with Warner Brothers Records in 1958. That year, Key released four singles-“Drown My Tears,” “Baby Please Don’t Go,” “Most of All,” and “She’s Sumpin’ Else,” - with Eddie Cochran on guitar, Howard Roberts on rhythm guitar, and Eddie Palmer on drums. Warner Brothers sent Key on a promotion tour and he toured the country performing on various teen dance television programs.
    After returning to Fresno, he formed the band The Rhythm Rockers with J.J. Malone, C.A. Carr, Calvin Banks, and Calvin Peele. They toured venues throughout California during the 1960s-1970s releasing two albums on the Red Lighting label – I Gotta a New Car (1980) and Younger than Yesterday (1982). In 1979, Key purchased Eli’s Mile High Club upon the death of the club’s founder Eli Thornton. Known as the "West Coast Home of the Blues," Eli’s Mile High Club attracted notable blues and R&B performers throughout the 1970s-1980s and was awarded the Bay Area Blues Society’s Blues Night Club of the Year award in 1991. In 1986, Key founded Eli Mile High Records, a blues record label which released J.J. Malone’s Bottom Line Blues (1989) and Eddie Ray’s Blues At Midnight (1985). Troyce Key died of leukemia on November 9, 1992 in Oakland, California.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Troyce Key papers include correspondence, photographs, financial records, flyers, publicity material, and publications documenting the musical career of blues musician and nightclub owner Troyce Key. The papers are organized in to four series: Eli Mile High Records, Eli’s Mile High Club & Restaurant records, photographs, and assorted material. Eli’s Mile High Records include musician record contracts, business cards, brochures, correspondence with radio stations and fans, radio playlists for various blues radio stations, and publicity material related to albums by Eddie Ray and J.J. Malone released under the label in the 1980s.
    The Eli’s Mile High Club & Restaurant records includes administrative and financial records related to the operation of the night club, publicity kits and flyers of various performers, performance calendar, newspaper clippings, records documenting the establishment of the Troyce Key Scholarship Fund, and the Bay Area Blues Society’s Blues Night Club of the Year award. The bulk of the collection are 608 slides and photographs of the Key family and Key’s career as a blues musician. The photographs are organized into four subseries: Music, Key family photographs, Troyce Key funeral service, and assorted. Photographs documenting Key’s music career include 236 photographs sorted by Eli's Mile High Club, performances, festivals, television appearances, publicity stills, and assorted. Family photographs include portraits and family photographs of the Key family in Louisiana, Fresno, California, and Oakland, California in the 1930s-1980s.

    Arrangement

    Series I. Eli Mile High Records Series II. Eli’s Mile High Club & Restaurant Series III. Photographs Series IV. Assorted

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Key, Troyce.
    Malone, J.J.
    Fulson, Lowell.
    Ray, Eddie.
    Eli’s Mile High Club (Oakland, Calif.).
    Blues (Music)--California--San Francisco Bay Area.
    Oakland (Calif.) -- Social life and customs.
    Photographs.
    Sound recordings.