Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie record. Sadly there are no surviving images of Clarence “Pine Top” Smith.

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Clarence “Pine Top”SmithwasbornJanuary or June the 1904,inOrion, Alabamain the heart of southeastAlabama. Hewent on tobecomeaninternationally acclaimedblues pianistandcitedasone that theoriginators of“boogie-woogie.”In 1928 he exit “Pine Top’s BoogieWoogie”which wasthe firsttimethe phrase“boogiewoogie”appeared in arecordedsong.His music and also performance stylewasshapedby Southernbarrel-housebluesthatevolved in theSouthernturpentine camps, brothels, juke jointsandtravelingvaudevillebluesshowsof his day.Pine Top’s performance style was rootedintheearly blues and also vaudeville traditionand as a result,he wasnot only an excellent musician but likewise an all-round entertainer. Hewasparticularly known for his comedic,witty and also lyricalbanter that he famously “rapped” end the driving rhythms the his piano playing. PineTop Smithisalsoconsidered one of the establishing fathers ofrap.At the time ofitsrelease,“Pine Top’s BoogieWoogie,”was a significant hitandiscitedashaving a pivotal impactnot onlyonthestory the thebluesbutthe broaderevolutionofAmericanmusicas a wholeright up to theeventualemergence of rock and roll and also rap.

He to be born was in the tiny neighborhood of Orion, north of Troy, in Pike County, to Sam and also Molly Smith – one of 5 children. In ~ this time, most African Americans lived in problems of extreme rural poverty, under the repressive problems of Jim raven Laws, and were mostly destined to occupational as indentured sharecroppers eking a subsistence survival level that existence. The family moved come Troy soon after his birth and follow to his wife, that was his childhood love of climbing trees earned him the nickname “Pine Top.” Certainly, this region is known for its plentiful pine tree forests. Tiny is known around these early on years but it is likely that Smith had his first exposure come piano in a local church and had his first exposure to blues music on the streets and in local juke houses. By his early teens, he was already playing residence parties in the Troy area. He was serious around music and soon moved to Birmingham, a constant destination for traveling blues shows where there was a vibrant music scene. He to be based the end of Birmingham for a couple of years and also played in local venues, including the east End Park Club. In Birmingham he connected with fellow blues musicians, including barrel-house piano player and Aliceville, AL, native Robert McCoy. With Birmingham together his base, Clarence “Pine Top” Smith soon began to seriously travel and perform and in 1919, then a young teenager, is credited as a member of “Mattie Dorsey’s Big Four” at an figure in Memphis, Tennessee. 

This to be the dawn that the “Roaring Twenties” and the “Jazz Age,” with its heat for large bands and wild dancing. Solo piano players had actually to complete to win the approval the the dance-crazy publicly in according to crowd-filled venues. Some uncovered they can delight dancers with a fast-pass blues-style v a roll left hand bass line and also repeated patterns of eighth notes, fairly than 4 minutes 1 notes. V its rag-time, sacred, jazz and blues influences, the music gumbo boogie-woogie layout was born. The style evolved in barrel-houses, home parties, turpentine camps, brothels, theaters and juke joints in the South during the 1900s and traveled v the musicians who migrated to the northern cities. It should also be detailed that Perry Bradford (Alabama native/music entrepreneur, blues piano player and colleague of W.C. Handy) stated in his autobiography that the very first time that heard the “boogie-woogie” was in Chicago in 1906 play by a mysterious piano player also from Alabama dubbed “Lost John.” 

It have to be noted that etc players were additionally experimenting through this style. Mississippi delta bluesman Robert Johnson was provided to it is in an innovator of the “rolling base line” the he plucked the end on the reduced strings of his guitar– and thatRobert make his huge musical breakthrough while studying with IkeZinnerman, his elder guitarist mentor. Ike had learned guitar growing up in the Wiregrass region, born in Grady,less than 30 miles away from Troy– native older wiregrass blues musicians.It is not a good leap come surmise that it was Wiregrass bluesman Ikewhobrought this style with him when he moved to Mississippi come work and transmittedittoJohnson,who go on to record and also get credit transaction for thisstylisticinnovation.Then again, together it is hardly ever pointed out. Johnson shows up late in the story the the blues – and is offered far more credit 보다 he is early in regards to blues origins. He died age 27 in 1938 – and also recorded just a couple of sides virtually a decade after Pinetop had actually died.

Solo blues musicians had a many pressure to bring the present alone and also had come beall round entertainers. PineTopfound hewould include excitementto his performanceby “rapping” come theaudience, encouraging thedancersandgivinginstructions,likecalling“thegirl with the red dress on” to“shake the thing” and “mess around.”Smith was among the top virtuosos of the format just together the genre was gaining wider popularity

Byagesixteen,the ambitious youngSmithjoined the hundreds of African american wholefttheSouthand headed north,as component ofthe an excellent Migration,toarrive inPittsburgh,which haditsownrenownedthrivingjazz and bluesscene.There was additionally a burgeoning blackurbanmiddle-class that had actually money to spend and enjoyed the methods for top notch entertainment.He soonfoundwork inthebustlingnightlifeoftheHill district, nicknamed“Sugar Top.”This washeart that the entertainment districtwithplenty of avenues forregularlate nightgigsin thelively night clubs, dance ballrooms,andtheaters.Smith was not alone and also manySouthern jazz and also blues musicians migrated totake benefit of the avenues of come be found inthis growing music scene. Hefounda regularjob play piano in a society onWylie Avenueand exposure to abundant talent that played in the numeroussurrounding“Sugar Top” venues.

There room no well-known photographs of Pine optimal Smithbut reportsby contemporaries explain him as an enigmatic character, handsome, dapper and well dressed.Hewasalso report to be fond of alcohol, slept the the effects during the day and came come life in the night –a deemed womanizer and not only played in the red-light ar but likewise frequented the usage of services provided there.

He gained great experience ~ above thesouthern travel road present circuit and performed withmanyacts,including The Raymond Brothers, The Whitman Sisters, and Matt Dorsey’s Pickaninnies.The legend Wiregrass aboriginal Ma Raineyhadalsohadrelocatedto Pittsburgand because that a time chosetobase she traveling showin thethriving music scenethere.Shehired Smithtojoin herentourage that performers andhe toured on the vaudeville T.O.B.A(Theater owner BookingAssociation– also nick called by the musicians challenging On black Asses – forit’sgrueling schedule and also living conditions on the road)theater and also tentshowcircuit together apiano player,singer,tapdancer and also comedian.His reputation grew and also he toured through prestigious acts as well as Ma Rainey,likeBirmingham,AL,native CootGrant and Wilson, and also Butterbeans and Susie.With the TOBAcircuit that played everywhere thesouth including:Barleys 81 Theaterandthe Lyric Theater, new Orleans;KoppinsTheater, Detroit and the cities of Atlanta and Memphis. Despite based out of Pittsburg, smith traveled generally to perform and is well-known to have actually lived for brief periods in St. Louis, Missouri and Omaha, Nebraska,where he spent periods of time play clubs, rent parties and also whore houses.

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He reverted to Pittsburgh between tours, performing in local clubs and also cabarets. It was at the Rathskeller ~ above Wiley avenue in 1924 whereby he met and fell in love with Sarah Horton. He married she on October 11, 1924, when he to be twenty. Sarah was initially from Charlotte, NC. “Pine top and also I simply seemed to loss in love appropriate away- we always got follow me swell.” 

In Pittsburg,sometimeafter his marriage,Smith linked with fellowAnniston,AL,native,bluesman Cow Cow Davenport.Davenportwas currently a veteranpiano playerwhohadtoured extensivelyand wasat the timeworking together a talent enlightenment forBrunswick/Vocalion RecordsbasedinNew York andChicago.

The “race” recording boom wasflourishingandblues 78 document saleswerebooming asAfrican American music carry out byAfrican American musicians to be being commercially tape-recorded for the very first time.Davenport saw hear Pine peak at alocal honky tonk dubbed the Sachem Alley, “a chillyparlorand beer garden.”Cow Cowwas very impressed andis quoted as sayingto PineTop,“Boy, look at here, girlfriend have obtained a average boogiewoogie.”There is good debate as to who very first used the word “boogie woogie.”Cow Cow insurance claims he lugged the expression with him indigenous Alabama – his grandmother told him together a kid that the boogie guy would get him for playing the devils music.Cow Cow Davenport had actually been kicked out of Seminary in Selma for play “rags and blues.”