Saturday, August 08, 2009

12th Street Rag

12th street rag, big band version

(from the Jazz Journal, volume 4, number 1, dated 1951):
By S. Brun Campbell

"Euday L. Bowman was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on November 9th, 1887, and was educated in public schools. Eventually he became an arranger for popular orchestras. His musical works were Eleventh Street Rag, Twelfth Street Rag, and Petticoat Lane Rag, all named after streets in Kansas City, Missouri, and Colorado Blues, Kansas City Blues, Fort Worth Blues, Tipperary Blues, Shamrock Rag, White Lily Dreams, and Old Glory On Its Way. He died in New York City on May 26th, 1949, while there on a business trip. In his later years he was in poor health, and in very bad financial circumstances. He lived with his sister, Miss Mary M. Bowman, at 818 So. Jennings Street, Fort Worth, Texas, in an old worn house with a few small rooms. The old car that Mr. Bowman used to collect and sell paper salvage stood in the backyard as evidence of his stranded financial straits.

Although Euday Bowman wrote the Twelfth Street Rag in 1914, it was not until 1948 that he realised any money from it. He first published it himself, then he sold it for $100.00 to the Jenkins Music Publishers of Kansas City, who published it for many years. In 1937 the rights reverted back to him. I have been informed by the Jenkins Music Co. of Kansas City that they were transferred to Shapiro-Bernstein Music Publishers of New York City, who now own the work for publication.

On Monday, August 14th, 1950, a treasure trove of memories were moved away from Euday Bowman’s old home for his belongings and those of his sister, were off sold at public auction. Furniture, dishes, and Euday’s piano which he had owned since 1895, and which he bought in Hartford, Connecticut, were among the items that were auctioned off. One of his old friends, Mrs. Myrtle Stewart, bought the piano for $46.00. His accordion, and 600 new records of the Twelfth Street Rag, which Bowman played himself, were some of the other items, along with the family Bible, that went under the auctioneer’s hammer. His friend, Ed Lally, played Twelfth Street Rag on Bowman’s old piano as a farewell to the composer as the household goods were sold to settle the estate.

Reports at the auction were that the estate got $3,000.00 in on the Twelfth Street Rag in July of 1950, alone. But for Bowman, the money from his composition came almost too late, as he was in poor health and had to spend some $2,000.00 with doctors the first month after his royalties started coming in, Ironi-cally, the new things the Bowman’s had bought, went along with the old things, under the auctioneer’s hammer.

But the tall, lanky Texan, Euday Bowman, will always be remembered for his famous Rag, for it has proved to be one of the most popular pieces
of ragtime ever written. Very few people knew that his sister, Mary, who was a music teacher, wrote part of the tune, and shared in whatever profits were derived from it. It is too bad that both had to die just as they were commencing to enjoy the royalties that they both had waited for so many years.

I understand that Bowman and his sister have no heirs, and if such is the case, the royalties no doubt will go into the A.S.C.A.P. treasury, for he was an A.S.C.A.P. member. Whoever the lucky person was who bought Mr. Bowman’s 3-foot high collection of old music and the original Twelfth Street Rag manuscript, which he wrote, should be as proud of that wonderful collection as he was.

He was the last of the early Ragtime composers. It seems strange that Scott Joplin, the composer of the Maple Leaf Rag and Euday Bowman, composer of Twelfth Street Rag, should both be born in Texas. Joplin was born at Texarkana, Texas, in 1868."

That's 12th Street, Kansas City. Pendergast turf, and Mr. Bowman actually played in some of the nicer KC bordelloes, at least for a few years. Jazzmen from 'Nawlins to New York knew this tune well. Louis Armstrong played it (even in 50s and 60s).

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