Clarence “Pine Top” Smith

Born this day in 1904, Pine Top Smith is credited with popularizing the “boogie woogie” style of piano playing (at least under that name), by virtue of the 1928 record release of “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie”). The self-taught Pine Top moved all over the country as a kid, playing black vaudeville, revues and (as was the custom at the time) whorehouses. In the early 20s, he worked for a time as bandleader for the Whitman Sisters, and also toured with the likes of Ma Rainey, and Butterbeans and Susie. In 1928 he moved to Chicago and started cutting records. It was all cut tragically short when he was shot and killed in a juke-joint dust-up in 1929.

And now here’s the tune that made him famous. All the ingredients for what would become rock ‘n’ roll in the hands of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis are right here:

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


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