Twelfth Street Rag

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Twelfth Street Rag"
1915 sheet music cover
1921 version of the song

"Twelfth Street Rag" is a ragtime musical composition published by Euday L. Bowman in 1914. Years earlier, a friend of Bowman known only as "Raggedy Ed" declared his intention to open a pawn shop on 12th Street while the two were walking along it. Bowman is rumored to have said "If you get rich on those three balls, I'll write a piece on three notes to make myself rich."[1] The result was "The 12th Street Rag," one of the most famous and best-selling rags of the ragtime era.

It was more than 15 years after Bowman composed the song before he actually wrote the music down in manuscript form. He returned to Texas briefly and tried to sell the piece to a company in Dallas; but he only had an offer of ten dollars for it and was told it really wasn't worth publishing. Returning to Kansas City, he sold it to Jenkins Music Company in 1913. The Jenkins company felt Bowman's arrangement was too difficult, however, and hired C. E. Wheeler to simplify it. With a big advertising push, "12th Street Rag" began to sell better. In 1919, James S. Sumner added lyrics. The song was popular with early Kansas City bands and became a huge hit after Bennie Moten recorded it for RCA Victor in 1927, the same year that Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven recorded it. It has since become an enduring jazz standard.[citation needed]

Other recordings[edit]

Euday Bowman, the composer, recorded and published his own recording of the piece, on Bowman 11748. Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven recorded the song for Okeh Records in Chicago in May 1927. Krazy Kat and his orchestra perform the music in the 1930 cartoon The Bandmaster. A recording by Pee Wee Hunt was the Billboard number-one single for 1948, selling more than three million copies. It was released as Capitol Records 15105 in May 1948. Donald Peers recorded the song in London on March 26, 1949. It was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalogue number B 9763.

The song is perhaps best known in the UK as the theme to The Joe Franklin Show;[citation needed] the version most associated with the program was Big Tiny Little's 1959 recording from his album Honky Tonk Piano (Brunswick BL (7)54049). A brief excerpt of the song can also be heard about 37 minutes into the 1996 film The English Patient. Since 1999, a ukulele version has been featured as background music on the U.S. TV cartoon series by Nickelodeon, SpongeBob SquarePants. The Rastrelli Cello Quartet recorded a version for four cellos in 2006, on the album Vol. 1 - Concerto Grosso A LA Russe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Laird, Landon (June 5, 1949). "About Town". The Kansas City Star. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]