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Posts Tagged ‘Ma Rainey’

Died On This Date (July 6, 1971) Louis Armstrong / Jazz Icon

Posted by themusicsover on July 6, 2010

Louis Armstrong
August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971

Nicknamed “Satchmo,” Louis Armstrong was arguably the greatest performer jazz has ever known.  Born into poverty in New Orleans, Armstrong’s young life was as tough as one could imagine – a father who abandoned the family and a mother who was forced to turn to prostitution.  To get away, Armstrong hung out at the local dance halls of the city’s red light district, taking in the music of such greats as Joe “King” Oliver and Bunk Johnson who claimed he taught the young boy how to play the cornet.  He would later take up the more familiar trumpet.  When he became proficient on the cornet, Armstrong got gigs playing on riverboats and in parade brass bands.  It was only a matter of time before Armstrong was playing alongside the likes of Kid Ory, Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ella Fitzgerald and future wife, Lil Hardin.  Throughout his career, Armstrong made countless recordings, appeared in film and on television, and made the cover of Time magazine in February of 1949.  But it wasn’t until the world was caught up in Beatlemania, that he released his unlikely 1964 hit, “Hello Dolly.”  The song had the distinct honor of not only making him the oldest artist (63) to reach the #1 slot on the pop charts, but also of knocking the Beatles out of the top slot for the first time in 14 weeks.  Louis Armstrong died shortly after a heart attack at the age of 69.

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Louis Armstrong

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Died On This Date (March 15, 1929) Pinetop Smith / Influential Blues Pianist

Posted by themusicsover on March 15, 2010

Clarence “Pinetop” Smith
June 11, 1904 – March 15, 1929

Pinetop Smith was a blues pianist who blazed the trail for boogie-woogie players to follow.  He launched his career around 1920 when he found work as part of a traveling vaudeville act with whom he sang, told jokes, and played the piano.  It was during this time that he also played for Ma Rainey on occasion.  In 1928, Smith made his first record, “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie” which was one of the first boogie woogie hits.  He was reportedly the first to use the phrase “shake that thing” on record.  On the eve of his second recording, 24-year-old Pinetop Smith was shot and killed by an unknown assailant and for reasons never known.  Since his death, Smith has been noted as an influence on the likes of Tommy Dorsey, Ray Charles, and of course, Pinetop Perkins.

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Died On This Date (January 23, 1993) Thomas A. Dorsey / The Father Of Gospel Music

Posted by themusicsover on January 23, 2010

Thomas A. Dorsey
July 1, 1899 – January 23, 1993

Thomas A. Dorsey was a ’20s era singer, musician and composer who has been called the “Father of Gospel.”  Dorsey’s career began in jazz during the early ’20s, a time when he formed the backing band for Ma Rainey.  In 1928, and going by the name, Georgia Tom, Dorsey teamed up with Tampa Red to record “Tight Like That” which went on to sell seven million copies.  Over the course of his career, he is said to have written over 400 songs.  During the mid ’20s, Dorsey set his focus creating a music that would become known as Gospel.  He took standard Christian praise and married it with jazz and blues.  Many of his gospel songs have become standards and have been recorded by greats of future generations of rock ‘n roll and R&B.  Thomas A. Dorsey was 93 when he passed away on January 23, 1993.

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Precious Lord Recordings of the Great Gospel Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey - Thomas A. Dorsey

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Died On This Date (December 22, 1939) Ma Rainey / Blues Icon

Posted by themusicsover on December 22, 2009

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey
September, 1882 or April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939

Called the Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey was one of it’s earliest stars as well as one of it’s first generation to record.  She was a direct influence on Bessie Smith and no doubt, countless more.   She began her music career as a vaudeville performer at just 14.  Several years later, Smith joined that same troupe as a dancer and soon learned to sing the blues from Rainey.  In 1923, Rainey made her first recording, and over the next five years, she recorded more than 100 songs, including “C.C. Rider” (better known as “See See Rider”), “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and “Bo Weevil Blues.”  Over the years, she was backed by such musicians as Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, and Fletcher Henderson.   With the music of blues’ first generation falling out of favor by the early ’30s, Rainey retired to run a couple of theaters in her hometown in 1932.  On December 22, 1939, Ma Rainey died of a heart attack.

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Ma Rainey

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Died On This Date (November 1, 2008) Rosetta Reitz / Founder of Rosetta Records

Posted by themusicsover on November 1, 2009

Rosetta Reitz
September 28, 1924 – November 1, 2008

Photo By Jill Lynne

Photo By Jill Lynne

Rosetta Reitz was a much-respected feminist and music authority who formed her own label, Rosetta Records in 1979.  The label specialized in lost recordings of female blues artist from the 1920s to the 1960s.  Over the years, she released sides by the likes of Ida Cox, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Mae West.  Her packages were noted quality remasters, extensive liner notes and rare historical photos.  Reitz curated the Newport Jazz Festival’s “Women of Jazz” tributes in 1980 and 1981.  The programs included performances by Big Mama Thornton, Nell Carter and Koko Taylor.    Rosetta Reitz was 84 when she passed away on November 1, 2008.

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