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Jelly Roll Morton
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Musician
    (October 20, 1890-July 10, 1941)
    Birth name was Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe
    Recorded ‘Black Bottom Stomp,' ‘Grandpa's Spells;' ‘Jungle Blues,' ‘Kansas City Stomp,' ‘King Porter Stomp,' ‘Mint Julep,' ‘My Home Is In A Small Southern Town,' ‘The Original Jelly-Roll Blues,' ‘Pacific Rag,' ‘Pearls,' ‘Red Hot Pepper,' and ‘Wolverine Blues'
    Subject of the Broadway play ‘Jelly's Last Jam' (1992)
    Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence (1998)
    The name Jelly Roll is sexual slang.
    He got his professional start playing piano in a bordello.
    Some of the recordings he made for the Library of Congress were considered so racy that they were not released for over five decades.
    He supplemented his earnings as an itinerant pianist by hustling pool and pimping.
    On his business card, he called himself the ‘Originator of Jazz.'
    Realizing that he was too young to make a convincing case for himself as the creator of jazz, he added five years to his age, claiming to be born in 1885.
    He was stabbed when a fight broke out in a club where he was playing (1938).
    He was denied admission to the nearest hospital because it was ‘Whites Only.'
    One biographer suggests that he was cheated out of a million dollars in royalties for his compositions.
    He was denied membership in ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) because of his skin color.
    His ‘Complete Library of Congress Recordings' formed an 8-CD boxed set that won a Grammy for Best Historical Album (2005).

Credit: C. Fishel


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