King Oliver: Dippermouth Blues


Today is the birthday of the great jazz pioneer Joe “King” Oliver (1881-1938), a cornet player and trumpeter often considered a sort of link in the chain between the legendary Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong. He started out playing in brass bands in the fabled Storyville section of New Orleans around 1908, where he was considered one of the hottest musicians in the city. A decade later he left NOLA and settled in Chicago in the early ’20s to form his popular Creole Jazz Band, and later his Dixie Syncopators. Bad health and financial setbacks forced his decline throughout the 30s, killing him by 1938.

A great introduction to his music is the Archeophone Records release King Oliver, Off the Record: The Complete 1923 Jazz Band Records. 

For more on show biz history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 


And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc



    • It bears investigation! Only the segregated black vaudeville circuits and tent shows and the like were available to most musicians of his sort (and color) in those days, and many black jazz and blues musicians did work there. (Some, like Jim Europe, managed to work in mainstream “white” vaudeville by backing white acts. That’s the exception). But Ive come across no mention yet that King Oliver did (which doesnt mean that he didnt). Most of the venues Ive come across in connection with him are saloons, night clubs, dance clubs, cabarets — that sort of thing.


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