Home » Jazz Musicians » Nick LaRocca

Nick LaRocca

Sillian-American born Dominick James "Nick" La Rocca claimed to have invented Jazz and often complained that African-American musicians have been given too much credit for the birth of Jazz. He was so obnoxious about this, that many people tend to try and overlook the important contributions he made to the music and the role that the Original Dixieland Jass Band played in popularizing Jazz around the world.

La Rocca started playing with the Papa Laine's Reliance Brass Band in New Orleans. He formed the Original Dixieland Jass Band in New Orleans in 1914. The group referred to itself as America's first Jazz band. They played wacky novelty-based jazz and they were very popular in New York City during World War One.

The band featured La Rocca on cornet; Larry Shields on clarinet; Eddie Edwards on trombone; Tony Sbarbaro on drums and Henry Ragas on the piano.

The group had originally come to Chicago under the name of Stein's Dixie Jass Band with Yellow Nuñez on clarinet, but he was replaced with Larry Shields from Tom Brown's Band From Dixieland after a dispute with La Rocca. The band moved to New York in 1917. The band's name changed to the Orignal Dixieland Jass Band and they were an immediate success.

They released the world's first Jazz record on February 26, 1917 with "Livery Stable Blues", coupled with "Dixie Jass Band One Step" for the Victor Talking Machine Company. This record besides being the first ever Jazz record was wildly successful selling over one million copies. La Rocca composed and recorded the famed "Tiger Rag."

Before the band left for its successful tour of England, Ragas died and his place was taken by J. Russell Robinson. Edwards didn't want to go to England and he was replaced by Emil Christian. The group broke up in 1925 after La Rocca suffered a complete nervous breakdown and returned to New Orleans. The band re-formed briefly in 1938 and recorded some of their old songs for Victor. La Rocca retired from music after that and became a building contractor in New Orleans.


Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Nick Larocca And His...

World Culture Music


Tiger Rag

Victor Valente Publishing



Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.