And here’s a video where you can watch it take shape from ragtime to rock over 60 years.
 
 
‘The Darktown Strutters’ Ball’ is a song from the year ragtime-jazz split from ragtime-blues: 1917. It 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 the English band Status Quo, 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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1M-jVTxD0Q

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

Ted Mulry Gang’s Darktown Stutters’ Ball 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-_JmvZ8teM

 

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 100 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.

Share