Saturday, April 21, 2007

Performing Chopin or Urinating on the Audience?...

James Booker was a most prolific ragtime and blues pianist. Any recording of him is going to be quite compelling, no matter what the quality of the recording.

At the age of six, he was being classically trained as a musician and by the age of twelve was already recording records. His career as a musician was on-again, off-again due to a horrific drug and alcohol problem. There were accounts of him performing compositions of Chopin to a complicated Latin American rhythm in front of a crowd; the next night, he drunkenly mumbled obscenities and urinated on the audience from the stage. He eventually died as a result of his addiction, sitting in a wheel chair at the emergency room while waiting to be seen. An autopsy revealed the cause of death as a failed liver.

New Orleans Piano Wizard: Live!

Rounder Records put out some live recordings that are worth listening to (this album being one of them). Their website doesn't seem to be functioning currently but recordings on this label can be found in most record stores.

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