Buddy Bolden’s Birthday


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Posted by Seán Collins on 6 Sept 2013
 
 

Loud. Fat. And brassy.

That’s what they said his playing was like, the first man to earn the title of the “King” of jazz, the music he is credited with inventing.

buddy-bolden

Charles “Buddy” Bolden was born on 6 September 1877 at 319 Howard Street in New Orleans. And what he did with a cornet Uptown and in Storyville no one had done before.

We know this much. They danced until the sun came up, and at some point during the night, a member of Bolden’s band suggested they better open a window or two.

Which leads to another first in music: the use of the word funky. Bolden’s tune “Funky Butt” became a sort of theme song for his band.

Here is a recording of Jelly Roll Morton, made in 1939 or 1940, of Funky Butt/Buddy Bolden’s Blues. It was Morton who said that Bolden was “the blowingest man since Gabriel.”
 
 

Buddy Bolden’s Blues/Jelly Roll Morton

 
No recordings of Buddy Bolden are known to exist.

Bolden was diagnosed with dementia praecox, what now would be called schizophrenia. He was institutionalized and died in 1931. He’s buried in an unmarked grave in Holt Cemetery.
 
 
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National Parks Service Jazz History
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About Seán Collins

Seán Collins a veteran radio producer and web content manager. He served as the Senior Producer of NPR's All Things Considered for many years. He is Music Inside Out's web producer and manages social media for the program. He lives in Saint Louis.