Return to main page
Here are the details of how some visitors to this site started playing boogie woogie.
You can e-mail me with you own story for this page. (Replace [at] with @ in the email address).


Hi Tim

Just found your website via Jim Redfarn's site and noticed you want stories of how people got into playing boogie. My story is below.

Thanks
Claire Garwood
(June 2006)

My story: Two wonderful men influenced me to play boogie: my late Great Uncle Ken and my dear dad Frank. Great Uncle Ken performed on the stage with his wife Marjorie during the war. As long as I can remember there's been a piano at my parent's house which Ken would come round and play at parties. When I was about 3 or 4 I started trying to play the piano myself so my parents organised lessons for me. Whilst I received classical training, I really wanted to play like Ken. His signature tune was 'Ballin the Jack'. Ken taught me the rolling left hand boogie rhythm which is used in the first 8 bars of Oscar's Boogie by Oscar Peterson. I was heartbroken when Ken passed away but his music lives on in me, and I have a photo of the two of us playing together on the wall above my own piano - probably playing Swanee River which was one of our favourites.
My Dad is a huge jazz and blues fan and, again, as long as I can remember he's been playing his vinyls and now recently his CDs of people such as Oscar Peterson, Earl 'Fatha' Hines, Albert Ammons, Art Tatum etc. Every Sunday after lunch he'd play his records. Also somehow Dad knew the late Joe Piano Henderson who gave me a bundle of his sheet music when I was about 8 - I was thrilled and played Trudie over and again. My sister and I finally took dad to see Oscar Peterson last year for Father's Day - wonderful.
My final influence was my classical piano teacher. She perhaps could see I didn't have the discipline to complete my classical training (I eventually failed my grade 8) so early on she gave me a wonderful book of Scott Joplin rags. Now that I DID have the discipline for. It was excellent training for both hands and to this day, Maple Leaf Rag is one of the few pieces I can play without music.
I'm 30 now and as my husband and I start contemplating having our own children, one of the things I look forward to most is being able to share with them and pass on my love of music.


Pam from America recalls...
Gee, how did I get turned on to boogie......
I've studied classical piano for many years and it just stopped being fun after awhile. I actually stopped playing except for the occasional Christmas carol. (I basically didn't play for almost 8 years after taking 10 years of lessons!)
A few months ago, a public radio station was doing a show on American musical roots. I have no idea who they were playing, but the minute I heard the boogie piano, I just knew I had to get back to the piano and learn some boogie. I started taking lessons a few months ago and have just mastered Pinetop's Boogie Woogie -- what a blast!
Not really boogie influences, but I've been a big fan of Marcia Ball for many years, and have loved Scott Joplin since I was a kid. Maple Leaf Rag was one of the few fun songs I learned to play in high school.
I've been ordering boogie woogie cds from Amazon for the last few months. Unbelievable musicians, but some pretty tough recordings. One I highly recommend is Blues 88's Boogie Woogie Piano Instrumentals. Cost only $7 or $8 and I can't stop listening to it! Katie Webster, Preacher Jack, James Booker, David Maxwell, Roomful of Blues -- most of whom I hadn't heard of until I got the cd. AMAZING boogie!
I have my piano lesson today in a few hours and I can't wait. I can truly say that boogie woogie has brought me back to playing and loving every minute of it.


Jack Davis tells how he got started.
Dear Tim,
I have just recently discovered "the WEB", but I have more than 50 years experience with Boogie Woogie. I discovered the WEB by searching for "Albert Ammons". I did that because I had a new CD by Gene Ammons (sax, I think he is Alberts son). It was just a test to see how smart the internet was. I was very surprised to find that there are a lot of people in the world interested in what I thought was my own special interest. When I was about 10 years old I spent a lot of time listening to a radio station that played nothing but Boogie and Blues. This was about 1942, and it was not so hard to find BW then. About that time my parents bought a house with a piano in it, so that was when I first started playing Boogie Woogie. For several years that was all I could play, and only in "C", but as I got older I became interested in Jazz and more sophisticated stuff (like Stan Kenton). I spent a career in the US Air Force (23 years) and didn't play much, but in 1977 I retired (sort of) and started playing more. I learned a lot of Jazz Standards, and learned to use "fake books" by reading the guitar chords. About a year ago I bought me an Alesis Quadrasynth +Piano, and I have played a lot since then. I am gradually learning to read music. Playing the piano has been the major interest in my life, even when I wasn't playing much. I got interested in Ragtime a couple of years ago, and I have been trying to play "Maple Leaf Rag" since then. I think I can play it until I hear someone else. Most of the other Ragtime pieces are not that difficult, but I guess I will have to learn to read music to "actually" play Ragtime. I knew all the names on your list except Erwin Helfer and Jools Holland. I could probably think of a few you didn't mention. Freddie Slack was white, and his style was different, and most of what he did was with a band (Ray McKinley, Will Bradley) and a vocalist, Ella May Morse. I appreciate your list of recordings. I had some of those on 78RPM, and later was able to replace some of them with LP's. One record I had was "Boogie Woogie Prayer", 3 pianos, Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, and Pete Johnson. My favorite all time Boogie Woogie is "Honky Tonk Train Blues". I can do it a little better than "Maple Leaf Rag". I'm not ready to send you any MIDI files, but if I hear from you I might. I hope I do.


LinkExchange
LinkExchange Member


<- Back