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Meade Lux Lewis

The driving left-hand blues style known as boogie-woogie appeared around 1900 It began to surface in saloons, honky-tonks, bawdy houses, and “barrelhouses” in the South and Midwest around 1912.

“Barrelhouse” became synonymous with boogie-woogie. Music was generally supplied by a single pianist on an instrument in a questionable state of repair. The strongest possible expression of rhythm was therefore necessary, and the boogie bass supplied it perfectly. Primitive, gutsy, driving, it could be heard above the noise of the crowd and would work, at least in some keys, if the piano was missing a few keys.

Boogie-woogie spread more rapidly in the black community in the 1920s, became a national fad from 1938 to about 1945, and then rapidly faded from view. Yet it has remained a permanent favorite in the repertoire of most intermediate to advanced pianists, with some specialists still around. The first major popular recording artists to emerge from the field were Clarence “Pine Top” Smith (1904-1929) and Jimmy Yancey (1898-1951). The next generation of famous boogie players included Albert Ammons,Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis.

Meade Anderson Lewis was born September 4, 1905, in Chicago, from a musical family. He acquired the nickname “Lux” because as a child he would imitate the excessively polite comic strip characters Alphonse and Gaston, calling himself the Duke of Luxembourg.

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