Sunday, August 17, 2014

“Tiger Rag" charts for the first time: August 17, 1918

image from jazz.com


Original Dixieland Jazz Band “Tiger Rag”


Writer(s): Harry DeCosta/ Original Dixieland Jazz Band (see lyrics here)

First charted: 8/17/1918

Peak: 12 US, -- UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: “Tiger Rag” has been called “the very first jazz standard” LW-43 and “the most famous Dixieland jazz standard” JA-196 with hundreds of versions being played and recorded over the years. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band wrote the song and introduced it in vaudeville and on record, JA-196 although Jelly Roll Morton has claimed he originated the piece. JA-196

The band’s leader, cornetist Nick LaRocca, claimed the group invented Dixieland jazz. While most historians disagree, the group did stir interest in the new art form of jazz. NRR Also, it is possible LaRocca was the first to pair the words “Dixieland” and “jazz” together to describe jazz played in a southern style. LW-43

They were the first jazz band to be recorded. The common belief is that it was because they were white. LW-43 They lacked an outstanding player for solos LW-43 and were “not the best ensemble of its day,” NRR but they displayed enthusiasm and a sense of fun. LW-43

As was common in the first half of the 20th century, the song had multiple chart versions. Eight versions charted from 1918 to 1952. Notable renditions included Ted Lewis (#8, 1923), Ray Noble (#6, 1934), and Les Paul with Mary Ford (#2, 1952). In 1931, the Mills Brothers charted the most successful version with a four week stay at #1. PM-596 Still, the legendary Louis Armstrong regarded the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s version as the best. LW-43


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


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