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Robinson, J(oseph) Russel

Robinson, J(oseph) Russel

Robinson, J(oseph) Russel , early jazz writer, pianist; b. Indianapolis, Ind., July 8, 1892; d. Palmdaie, Calif., Sept. 30, 1963. At 14, he formed a piano and drum act with his brother, they toured (mostly through the South) until 1914; during this time he had sold his first composition “Sapho Rag” and composed “Eccentric.” He played solo piano in Ind. before moving to Chicago to play with the New Orleans Jazz Band led by Henry and Merritt Brunies. He moved to N.Y., joining the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in January 1919. He left the O.D.J.B. during their stay in London and returned to N.Y. in October 1919. He worked as W. C. Handy’s professional manager; rejoined O.D.J.B. for their residency at the Folies Bergere in N.Y. (September 1920). From the spring of 1921 Robinson worked as an accompanist for various singers including Marion Harris, Lucille Hegamin, and Lizzie Miles, then quit professional playing to work as a full-time composer. He took part in the revived O.D.J.B. in 1936, then moved back to the West Coast to resume composing. One of his most famous tunes is “Margie,” he also wrote the lyrics for “Memphis Blues” and “Ole Miss.”

—John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter

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