Here’s a top rock & roll track written in 1917

This post was revised on 12 June 2014 due to the original link to the Ted Mulry Gang’s 1976 recording of  ‘The Darktown Strutters’ Ball’ being removed because it was “NOT ALLOWED”.

‘The Darktown Strutters’ Ball’, a song from the year
ragtime-jazz split from ragtime-blues, has been recorded by many great artists over the
years, from Hoagy Carmichael to Fats Waller. One of my favourite versions, in
wonderful rock & roll style, reminiscent of AC/DC, was recorded in Australia in 1976,
some 60 years after it was written. Here’s how the song sounded in 1917, recorded by the Irish-American vocalist, Billy Murray.

First published and recorded in 1917

Billy Murray’s 1917 version

Now, take a listen to the same song by The Ted Mulry Gang

Ted Mulry Gang’s Darktown Stutters’ Ball

Ted Mulry was a chirpy Lancashire
lad from Oldham, England, who, like so
many other British musicians before him, emigrated to Australia to find
success. Sadly, Ted died in 2001 aged just 54.

Ted Mulry (second right) and his Gang

Why am I bringing this up? Well, ‘The Darktown Strutters’ Ball’ was first released exactly 96 years ago on
30 May 1917, just as the latest musical craze, ragtime jazz, was splitting from its
forerunner, ragtime blues. It was written by an African Canadian with Native American heritage called Shelton Brooks, who moved to Detroit with his
family in 1901, aged 15.

In 1917, arguably the world’s first
jazz record, ‘Livery Stable Blues’, had just been released by The Original
Dixieland Jass Band, a white New Orleans jazz ensemble. Almost immediately,
they changed their name to The
Original Dixieland Jazz Band and
released ‘The Darktown Strutters’ Ball’ that May.
*TMG had enjoyed an earlier Aussie hit, Jump In My
Car, in 1975, which resurfaced to reach number three in Britain in 2006 by, of
all people, David Hasselhoff.

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