Few today recognize the name Euday Bowman, yet during ragtime’s heyday Bowman’s 12th Street Rag was one of the most well recognized tunes around. He wrote the tune in 1897, and over the next half century, it made a lot of money for a lot of people…uh, Bowman not among them. Though “the Rag” was credited with reinvigorating ragtime, made famous by jazz legends like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, and featured in a Charlie Chaplin film, Bowman had sold the copyright in 1916 for a $100. It was a mistake he would regret the rest of his life, and, not to be overly dramatic, but it may have also killed him. In 1949, on a trip to New York to appeal for song royalties, he…caught pneumonia and died days later.
This episode was written in part by Andrew Troast, part of the Sound Beat Class Partnership.