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
Dont Want It, a tune which was the first hit of Mister Clar­ence Williams. He got the credit for it, although i happened to be the one that taught him how to play it.
You may wonder why 1 didn't copyright my tunes in the old days. Well, it was not only me, but many others. The fact is that the publishers thought they could buy anything they wanted for fifteen or twenty dollars. Now if you was a good piano player, you had ten jobs waiting for you as soon as you hit any town, and so fifteen or twenty dollars or a hundred dollars didn't mean very much to us. (Those were wonderful days. I would really like to see them back again, because, if I make ten dollars today I think I've got a great day.) So we kept our melodies for our private material to use to battle each other in battles of music. The men who had the best ma­terial in these battles were considered the best men and had the best jobs, and the best jobs meant, maybe, a hundred dollars a day. So we didn't give the publishers anything, but they said, "We know where to get tunes," and they would steal our tunes and come out with them anyhow.
By now I had developed to be a pretty good pool player. But one day a gentleman cleaned me out and I learned I had been playing the original Pensacola Kid. He thought I looked pretty highclass and agreed that if I would help him pick out some clothes he would show me how to improve my game. We both caught on very fast and a pool table began to look as easy as a piano keyboard to me. So I decided to try what I could do in New Orleans. In the latter part of 1905 I came back into town, met the good players and defeated them.* That made Winding Boy into a hot sport in New Orleans. My tunes had become to be very well known. My services were in demand.
** Johnny St. Cyr said. . . . "Yes he was a very good pool player. Played for real money. He was in the class with Pensacola Kid, couldn't beat him but he could give him a hell of a game . . . Jelly Roll was on the hustling side. He*d gamble, play pool, play piano—I have even known him to hop bells in a dull season when they close the dance halls down."