Funky Butt

a/k/a Buddy Bolden's Blues


Buddy Bolden (1877-1931) is generally considered to be the first man to play the improvised music which later became know as Jazz. He was the first "King" of cornet in New Orleans, and is remembered by the musicians of that time period as one of the finest horn players they had ever heard. He is remembered for his loud, clear tone. His band starting playing around 1895, in New Orleans parades and dances, and eventually rose to become one of the most popular bands in the city. In 1907 his health deteriorated and he was committed to a mental institution where he spent the remainder of his life.

Bolden made no recordings, but was immortalized in the Jazz standard Buddy Bolden's Blues, also known as Funky Butt. But he did not write it. This tune as a blues has been around for quite a while. As early as 1883, a 13-year old New Orleans office boy was heard to be singing:

Thought I heard Miss Suzie shout
Open the window and let the breeze blow out.

One of Bolden's sidemen took the tune and made it the Funky Butt Blues.

Thought I heard Buddy Bolden say,
Funky butt, funky butt, take it away.


Mississippi John Hurt recorded Funky Butt for Dick Spottswood, Library of Congress:

I thought I heard somebody say
(guitar answers)
Funky butt, stinky butt, take it away
`cause I don't like it nohow

See that girl with the red dress on
(guitar answers)
Funky butt, funky butt, sure as you're born
well I don't like it nohow.

You see that girl with the blue dress on
(guitar answers)
She got stinky butt, funky butt, leave it alone
`Cause I don't like it nohow.


Funky Butt is the second theme of The Saint Louis Tickle, an old ragtime piece. Click on the player at the top of the page to hear it.


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Last Updated 13-Oct-2013   Sitemap

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