For such a party the tenant of a flat bought alcoholic beverages, which had to happen secretly, because in the USA there was at this time the Prohibition. He also hired a band with a good boogie-woogie pianist and made sure that as many people as possible heard about a boogie-woogie party taking place in the apartment in the evening. The guests who came were then required to pay admission and the rent was finally paid with this money. At such a party the autodidact from Alabama - Clarence Pinetop Smith (1904-1929) played his Pinetop`s Boogie for the first time. The piece is based on the 1925 published "Jimmys Blue´s" by Jimmy Blythe (1901-1931), the influential boogie pianist who died of meningitis at the age of 30. Pinetop Smith, of whom no photo exists, became a legend because he was the first pianist to title a piece on a record with the name "Boogie Woogie". On 29 December 1928 "Pinetop`s Boogie" was published for the first time and thus the first hit of Boogie Woogie came into being. Unfortunately, he could no longer witness his chart success, since he died in February 1929 at the age of 24 in a shooting in which he was not involved. One day before the planned second recording. Most of the boogie pianists of the following generations included their "own" Pinetop´s boogie in their program. Jimmy Yancey (1898-1951), born in Chicago, belongs to "The Outstanding Figures" in boogie history. The role model for Ammons, Lewis and Johnson - had never himself played piano on a "real" stage. He loved to play privately, among friends. In his apartment met the boogie scene of Chicago - also Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis. It was not until the duo's "public relations work" that producers became aware of him: "Yancey Stomp" was recorded in 1939. A special event in the life of the musician, who never left the city limits of Chicago, was a trip to Europe, where he played in front of the royal house at Buckingham Palace. Yancey was accepted into the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" in the eighties. The most eccentric entertainer personality of the Chicago boogie and blues scene is certainly "Cripple" Clarence Lofton (1896 -1957). He impressed the audience with his undisciplined piano playing and the show interludes during his performances. He sang with extremely expressive facial expressions, snapped his fingers like a Spanish dancer at the same time, changed from piano to drums at lightning speed and stepped impressively despite his lame leg. Musically it often happened that he started a new chorus before he finished the first one. The twelve bar pattern of the Blues was reduced to 9, 10 or 11.5 bars (e.g. "I Don't Know"). His most famous works are: "Strut That Thing," "Monkey Man Blues," "I Don't Know," and "Pitchin' Boogie."
Excursus: The Boogie Pianist at the House Rent Parties
The boogie pianist reached a special social position during this time. He played at various parties where specialties such as tripe, boiled marshmallow, fried fish or egg puntsch were served. His services were in great demand and he had access to all Subscribe to DeepL Pro to edit this document. Visit for more information. these pay parties without having to pay. The "father of the stride pianos" James P. Johnson told: "If you could play the piano well, you would be passed around from one party to another and everyone would take great care of you, feeding you ice cream, cakes, food and drinks. In fact, some of the industry's greatest experts were also known as the greatest eaters we had. At a party that lasted all night, you started at one o'clock in the morning, at four o'clock you got the second meal. Many of us later had to suffer from eating and drinking habits that we had become accustomed to in our young, sociable days" (from LeRoi Jones: "Blues People", p. 156) Pinetop Smith also "tells" the following in his "I'm Sober Now": "I don't mind playin' anytime y'all can get me drunk, but Mr. Pinetop is sober now". I've been playing the piano round here all night long and y'all ain't bought the first drink somehow"
Boogie Piano and the Great Depression
"Before the boogie piano reached the peak of its development in the second half of the 1930s, the Great Economic Crisis brought out the worst. Also for the boogie pianists a longer dry spell began. The "Great Depression", which began on 29 October 1929 ("Black Tuesday") with the collapse of the US stock exchange, continued until the mid-1930s. Many factories and offices had to close. Around 15 million people became unemployed and average wages fell by 60%. Long queues of people waiting for work or food shaped the street scene. The music industry was also shaken: many nightclubs, jazz cellars and cabarets had to close or dismiss their artists, the record industry was almost ruined in one fell swoop. Most of the musicians, especially the African Americans, now worked in low-paid jobs to keep themselves and their families afloat. For example Meade "Lux" Lewis: "Meade "Lux" Lewis found great difficulty in obtaining work as a pianist and spend some time on relief working on a Works Progress Administation (WPA) shovel gang. These government projects gave work to the millions of unemployed and involved them in labouring or contruction work on community-service or public-service projects. Lewis also worked on relief washing cars." (P. New Year's Eve: "A Left Hand like God: A Study of Boogie Woogie", p. 95)
The Golden Years: Carnegie Hall and Cafe Society
The "golden" times for boogie piano were favoured on the one hand by the boom in musical life after the great economic crisis of the mid-1930s had been overcome. On the other hand, the talent scout John