Song:Jump Steady Blues
Album:Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano Vol. 1 1928-1932
Despite his tragic 1929 death, Clarence "Pinetop" Smith was an important figure in the creation of boogie woogie piano. But I don't think he actually invented boogie woogie the way some think. He was born June 11, 1904 in Troy, AL. Pinetop was a childhood nickname because he liked to climb trees. A self taught pianist, he moved to Pittsburgh in 1920 to work the vaudeville circuit as a singer, pianist and comedian. he accompanied blues legend Ma Rainey and the comedy team of Butterbeans and Susie. In the mid-20s, pianist Charles "Cow Cow" Davenport suggested that Smith move to Chicago and put him in touch with J. Mayo Williams of Vocalion Records. He moved with his wife and child to Chicago and signed with Vocalion. He lived in the same rooming house with Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis and no doubt this is where boogie woogie piano was created when these guys jammed together. Smith seems to get credit for the term boogie woogie because his 1928 recording Pine Top's Boogie Woogie was the first record to use the term. That seems like a happy accident to me. Of course Smith could have been as famous as Ammons, Lewis or Pete Johnson but he died tragically from a stray gunshot in a dancehall fight on Mar. 15, 1929 at age 24. He was scheduled to record the next day. You can get Smith's dozen recordings on this CD from the British label Document. Though Smith was quickly forgotten, Ammons and Johnson always gave him credit for developing the boogie woogie piano style. Here's a video of Jump Steady Blues by Pinetop Smith.