Jelly Roll Morton, Inventor Of Jazz, Online Book by Alan Lomax

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
was named after the King of Spain—but the King of Spain didn't do anything, it was the queen, Isabella.
When I was six months old, my godmother—a very dark woman—would take me from my mother and, in absence of mother, would pass me off for her child. It seems like she got a special kick out of this because I was a very good-looking baby.
One of these afternoons, in borrowing the baby now known as Jelly Roll Morton, my godmother loaned me to one of her acquaintances, some type of sporting-woman. This lady dis­played me in saloons, setting me on the bar and so forth and so on, making mirations. Then, through some kind of fracas or riot, she was arrested. The officers decided not to put the baby in jail with her and her associates, but she raised so much hell that the young Ferdinand, named after the useless King of Spain, was thrown right in jail at the age of six months.
The inmates were singing and making a lot of noise from time to time and it was there young Ferdinand got his first musical inspiration. The inmates would be singing and, as long as they would sing, it would keep the baby happy, and, the minute they would quit, I would go into a frantic rage. When they would start up again and sing, I would smile along with the singing. That was my first inspiration.
My first instrument was made up of two chair rounds and a tin pan. This combination sounded like a symphony to me, be­cause in those days all I heard was classical selections. The next instrument tried was the harmonica at the time I was five years old. After trying to play harmonica for two years, I dis­covered I was the world's worst and changed to the jew's-harp, although this instrument sounded more like a bee humming than like music. When I had mastered this instrument, I set out to whip the world and conquer all instruments.
We always had some kind of musical instruments in the house, including guitar, drums, piano, trombone, and so forth and so on. We had lots of them and everybody always played for their pleasure—whatever ones desired to play. We