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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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Jacksonville my girl friend, Stella Taylor, got dissatisfied and so I quit, too. I sent my trunks with all my clothes to New Orleans and just kept a blue suit, which needed pressing. I took it to a shop on Pearl Street near the railroad station and, as I had some business to attend to, asked the man for a pair of pants to wear. He gave me an old pair, torn and full of holes. When I went back to get my suit, this guy drew a base­ball bat on me and forced me to leave without my suit.
I went back to the hotel and somehow Stella and I got into a quarrel. The way those things go, we said things we both re­gretted later on, among which Stella told me she had found a guy she liked better than I. It so happened that I knew the fellow; he was a supposed-to-be pool player. I looked this gentleman up in a pool hall and just naturally beat him to death playing pool and took every nickel he had in the world. I told him I hoped he would have a nice time with Stella, who was a girl with very expensive habits, I'm telling you. Tlhen I wralked off and left him.
I just hung around Jacksonville, might have been a couple of months, feeling low on account of what had taken place between me and Stella. I even bought a trombone and prac­ticed awhile. Then I heard that Billy Cassans was putting to­gether a show in Memphis and I decided to join him, which I did. We went on tour and in this show I acted as straight man to Sandy Burns, the blackface comedian and the first eccentric dancer in the United States, and it was through, him I happened to get the name, Jelly Roll.
One night while working ad lib on the stage, doing comedy,*
at the time, had that diamond in his tooth and a couple of dogs (prostitutes ) along. That diamond helped him in his business, you know—it made some of these gals think he was a big shot. Of course, Jelly Roll wasn't a piano player like some of us down here. We bordered more on the classical theory of music." ** About Jelly's talent for comedy, his old friend, Reb Spikes has this to say ... '1 met Jelly in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1912 and we had a show. Jelly wanted to be a comedian. He thought he was a funny man and, my God, he was as funny as a sick baby. He never made nobody laugh. He'd black up (he was very light, you know) and come out and sit at the piano and tell jokes and play some rags and nobody ever laughed and so one day I told him to cut out the funny crap and stick to the piano crap and he'd do all right."