Jazz Birthday

James Reese Europe by Joe Busam

James Reese Europe

James Reese Europe was born in Mobile, Alabama, on February 22, 1881. James learned piano from his mother, and banjo and fiddle under his father’s

Read More »

Stéphane Grappelli

Stéphane Grappelli was born on January 26, 1908, in Paris. Grappelli’s mother died when he was five, leaving his father to raise him. Grappelli began

Read More »
Bob Effros

Bob Effros

Robert “Bob” Effros was born December 6, 1900, in London, England. His Russian Jewish parents emigrated shortly afterward from London to Memphis, Tennessee. Bob ran

Read More »
Hoagy Carmichael by Joe Busam

Hoagy Carmichael

Hoagy Carmichael was born Howard Hoagland Carmichael on November 22, 1899, in Bloomington, Indiana. Carmichael had piano and singing lessons from his mother, but was

Read More »

Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters was born on October 31, 1896, in Chester, Pennsylvania. She sang in church choirs as a child, won local talent contests, and performed

Read More »

Ted Weems

Ted Weems was born Wilfred Theodore Wemyes on September 26, 1901, in Pitcairn, Pennsylvania. Weems’ start in music came when he won a violin in

Read More »

Benny Carter

Benny Carter was born Bennett Lester Carter on August 8, 1907, in New York City. Benny’s mother taught him the basics of music on the

Read More »
Buster Bailey by Joe Busam

Buster Bailey

William C. “Buster” Bailey was born July 19, 1902, in Memphis, Tennessee. Bailey learned the rudiments of clarinet while a student in the city’s public

Read More »
Guy Lombardo

Guy Lombardo

Guy Lombardo was born Gaetano Alberto Lombardo on June 19, 1902, in London, Ontario. Encouraged by their father, Lombardo (who played violin) and his brothers

Read More »
Bing Crosby by Joe Busam

Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby was born Harry Lillis Crosby on May 3, 1903, in Tacoma, Washington, growing up in Spokane. His lifelong nickname of Bing came from

Read More »
Johnny Dodds by Gary Price

Johnny Dodds

Johnny Dodds was born April 12, 1892, in Waveland, Mississippi. Johnny spent his childhood steeped in music, with his father, uncle, and sister playing various

Read More »
Miff Mole by Joe Busam

Miff Mole

Miff Mole was born Irving Milfred Mole in what is now Roosevelt, Long Island, on March 11, 1898. Miff studied violin and piano before switching

Read More »
Wilbur Sweatman

Wilbur Sweatman

Wilbur Sweatman was born February 7, 1882 in Brunswick, Missouri. His older sister Eva sparked Wilbur’s interest in music, teaching him to play piano. Later,

Read More »
Al Bowlly

Al Bowlly

Al Bowlly was born January 7, 1898, in Lourenço Marques (today Maputo) in Mozambique. His father was Greek and his mother was Lebanese. They met

Read More »
Sonny Greer by Joe Busam

Sonny Greer

William Alexander “Sonny” Greer was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, on December 13, 1895 (according to most sources). Sonny Greer met and befriended Edward

Read More »
Willie "The Lion" Smith by Joe Busam

Willie “The Lion” Smith

William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff Smith was born on November 25, 1897, in Goshen, New York. Young Willie began playing piano when he was six

Read More »
Clarence Williams

Clarence Williams

Clarence Williams was born October 6th or 8th, 1893, in Plaquemine, Louisiana. He ran away from home when he was 12 to join Billy Kersands’

Read More »
Phil Napoleon by Joe Busam

Phil Napoleon

Phil Napoleon was born Filippo Napoli in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 2, 1901. Napoleon took up the trumpet early and first played in public when

Read More »
Arthur Fields

Arthur Fields

Arthur Fields was born Abraham Finkelstein in Philadelphia on August 6, 1888, with his family relocating to Utica, New York, shortly thereafter. Young Abe was

Read More »
Omer Simeon by Joe Busam

Omer Simeon

Omer Simeon was born July 21, 1902, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Though born in the Crescent City, Simeon ironically did not start to play clarinet

Read More »
Ted Lewis

Ted Lewis

Ted Lewis was born Theodore Leopold Friedman on June 6, 1890, in Circleville, Ohio. He learned piccolo as a member of the Circleville Boys’ Band

Read More »
Vic Burton

Vic Berton

Vic Berton was born Victor Cohen in Chicago on May 7, 1896. Vic grew up in a middle-class household, though one with a streak of

Read More »
Alberta Hunter

Alberta Hunter

Alberta Hunter was born April 1, 1895, in Memphis, Tennessee. She never knew her father, and was not happy with her stepfather. She left home

Read More »
Frank Teschemacher

Frank Teschemacher

Frank Teschemacher was born March 13, 1906, in Kansas City, Missouri. After his family moved to Chicago in 1912, Frank took up a number of

Read More »
Or look at our Subscription Options.