Eubie Blake on the Fourth of July: The Stars and Stripes Forever

This, The Stars and Stripes Forever, is my favorite piece of patriotic and military music It was written by that musical genius John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) leader of the Marine Corps Band. Sousa wrote many other great marches, but this is my favorite. A great performance of a great song  to hear on the Fourth of July, American Independence Day.

At the same time Eubie Blake (1887-1983) was appearing on the Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson, I saw him play live at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, California. He was 93 years old and still vigorous. In addition to his own compositions, he played an overture from a Wagner Opera solo on the Piano. An incredible feat for a man of any age.

His greatest claim to fame was his collaboration with Noble Sissle in writing the music for the musical Shuffle Along, These included songs that became standards such as I’m Just Wild About Harry and Memories of You.

It was such a thrill and privilege to see and hear this great man born so long ago in a live performance.  He was a contemporary of Scott Joplin,  Composer of the Maple Leaf Rag, the man most responsible for ragtime music.  Joplin died young and unfortunately for us before the age of phonograph records.  I have the LP from which the picture of Eubie Blake was used to make this You Tube, titled The Eighty-Six Years of Eubie Blake.  It was a  Grammy winner and a wonderful LP. I read in  the liner notes that when Eubie put the tips of his thumbs together and spread his fingers apart across the keys, he could reach from the bottom key on the piano to middle C. His fingers were 11 inches long.  I shook hands with him and I can verify that it’s true.   It was a very happy evening and a wonderful memory.

Happy Fourth of July.

Thanks to 525wireman for the You Tube.

About Richard Rollo

I am a retired Community College Instructor. I taught Political Science 1 American Government for 22 years in Southern California. I am originally from Northern Minnesota. My earliest years were spent in the living quarters of a rural Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific Railway Depot. Then my family joined the great 1950's migration to Southern California where I joined up with fellow baby boomers in overcrowded schools.
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