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

with Some sheet music & lyrics.

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Ellington and this was the beginning of his great rise. The Palace Theatre wanted me and 1 had the same trouble, and then was when Cab Calloway got his start, I joined a show and the show folded. I decided to quit the music business alto­gether and I started a cosmetic company which lost me the last few pennies I had. Finally I went to the New York District Attorney to see whether he could put the old man in jail to stop him from working against me. He told me there was no law in New York State to prevent people from working in this way. . . .
Mabel Morton confirmed this strange tale in part. Accord­ing to her, the West Indian was a songplugger whom Jelly took into partnership out of charity. Financed by Morton, the ras­cal rented the office, installed the phone, even bought the furniture in his own name and, when Jelly threw him out, sprinkled some kind of powder all over the place. Mrs. Morton stoutly denied, however, that voodoo was at work . . .
I think, she said, it was some kind of a poisonous powder for insects. But I saw it all over the office, some kind of pink stuff. There was a girl drank out of a paper cup and her lips swole up till you couldn't recognize her. And then my husband started to go to fortune tellers. I tried to talk to him and tell him that was all baloney. "You have the wrong idea, honey. It's those people's racket, it's their line, just the same as you're a musician. They'll send you to the cleaners."
Which is exactly what happened. Jelly lost everything he stil had—his bus, his music, his clothes; a fellow at Victor even ran away with his diamond ring which Jelly had up for a small loan. Besides the one in his tooth, that was the last of Jelly's diamonds and it was the last of him in New York.
A very little time after that in 1935 he told me he was going to try his luck in Washington in the fighting game. He had met a fellow who told him he could make a killing promoting fights, so I was to stay on in New York and look after his ASCAP and