Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy, Revised and Expanded Edition

Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy, Revised and Expanded Edition

Gennett Records and the Rise of America's Musical Grassroots
Rick Kennedy, foreword by Ted Gioia
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/08/2013
Format: Paperback 20 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-00747-6
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


A Jazz History Online Best Book of 2013

In a piano factory tucked away in Richmond, Indiana, Gennett Records produced thousands of records featuring obscure musicians from hotel orchestras and backwoods fiddlers to the future icons of jazz, blues, country music, and rock 'n' roll. From 1916 to 1934, the company debuted such future stars as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke, and Hoagy Carmichael, while also capturing classic performances by Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Uncle Dave Macon, and Gene Autry. While Gennett Records was overshadowed by competitors such as Victor and Columbia, few record companies documented the birth of America's grassroots music as thoroughly as this small-town label. In this newly revised and expanded edition of Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy, Rick Kennedy shares anecdotes from musicians, employees, and family members to trace the colorful history of one of America's most innovative record companies.

Author Bio

Rick Kennedy is a veteran communications manager with General Electric Company and a former journalist. A freelance music writer for more than 30 years, he is author (with Randy McNutt) of Little Labels–Big Sound: Small Record Companies and the Rise of American Music (IUP, 2001).


“Tracing the colorful history of one of America's most innovative record companies, this newly revised and expanded edition shares anecdotes from musicians, employees, and family members of such stars as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bix Biederbecke, Jelly Roll Morton, Hoagy Carmichael, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, and Gene Autry.”

““Delightful history of Gennett Records, its parent the Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana, in the 1920s, and the birth of recorded jazz . . . For jazz followers, not to be missed. A huge success.” —Kirkus Reviews “ . . . a labor of love if ever there was one. . . . [Gennett] helped get everything started, and we are in Rick Kennedy’s debt for paying it due tribute.” —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post “ . . . lively and anecdotal history . . . ” —JazzTimes From 1917 to 1932, in a primitive studio next to the railroad tracks, the Gennett family of Richmond, Indiana recorded some of the earliest performances of jazz, blues, and country greats—including Jelly Roll Morton, Big Bill Broonzy, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Gene Autry, Bix Beiderbecke, and native Hoosier Hoagy Carmichael (whose “Stardust” debuted on Gennett as a dance stomp). Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy is the first detailed account of the people and events behind this unique company. Personalized by anecdotes from musicians, employees, and family members, it traces the colorful history of a pioneer recording company.”

“In this revised and expanded edition, Rick Kennedy's extensive research and vivid writing bring to life hillbilly fiddler Doc Roberts and WLS star Bradley Kincaid, as well as the label's Alabama recording studio where William Harris's classic blues sides were cut, and the discovery of Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and others who recorded at Gennett's Richmond, Indiana, studio.”
 — Holly George-Warren, author of Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life & Times of Gene Autry

“Kennedy’s passion for and years of in depth research of the Starr Piano / Gennett Record label story shines brightly in the new edition of Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy. Not only is it the definitive account of the company’s history, but of the tipping point in both the birth of the modern record business and the introduction of American culture and music to the world.”
 — Charlie B. Dahan, Associate Professor, Recording Industry Studies, Middle Tennessee State University

“One spring day in 1923, King Oliver and Louis Armstrong spent six long hours on a train getting to Richmond, Indiana. But once they had arrived at the Gennett studios, Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band made what are now universally regarded as the first great jazz recordings. This is just one of many stories in Rick Kennedy’s exhaustively researched and lovingly detailed history of Gennett. Highly recommended.”
 — Krin Gabbard, author of Hotter Than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture

“Kennedy’s book comes highly recommended. His writing style is entertaining and informative. By describing the personal characteristics of Gennett’s principal owners, the reader can easily keep all of the various characters straight. Further, Kennedy’s wide-ranging appreciation for American music makes the reader want to hear these recordings. The Gennetts may not have fully appreciated the music they recorded, but Rick Kennedy makes up for that many times over.”
 — Jazz History Online

“Kennedy eloquently and informatively connects all these pieces together to form a clear, informative, and delightfully entertaining read. He breathes new life into the legacy of Gennett Records and fully enmeshes the readers into a world when then unknown musicians rambled to a dusty Midwestern piano factory to record their music. Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy will surely satisfy an audience of jazz buffs, historians, or anyone seeking a revealing account of a greenhorn music industry.”
 — PopMatters

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ted Gioia
Gennett Records Timeline

1. A Music Dynasty in Victorian Indiana
2. A New Wind Is Blowing through Chicago
3. Jazz Hysteria in the Hoosier State
4. Old-Time Music in the New Electronic Era
5. When Gennett Records Gets the Blues
6. Yet the Music Lives On

Suggested Listening: Fifty Classics by Gennett Records
Selected Bibliography
Index of Songs

Related Titles