[Dixielandjazz] Who wrote Tiger Rag?

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Jan 5 13:53:12 PST 2007

Mike <mike at railroadstjazzwest.com> asked:
> I heard that Nick LaRocca didn't actually write Tiger Rag but he
> did publish it first. From what I understand it was a very well
> known tune in New Orleans and it remained unpublished for many
> years. Does anyone know if that's true?

Here is what Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia says about it: There is plenty
of info on google about it.

Steve Barbone

It was credited to O.D.J.B. members Nick La Rocca, Eddie Edwards, Henry
Ragas, Tony Sbarbaro, and Larry Shields, along with Harry Da Costa.

However, other New Orleans, Louisiana musicians claimed that the tune had
been a standard in the city even before. Some others even copyrighted the
same melody or close variations on it under their own names, including Ray
Lopez under the title "Weary Weasel" and Johnny DeDroit under the title
"Number Two Blues". A number of veterans of Papa Jack Laine's band said the
tune had been known in New Orleans as "Number Two" long before the O.D.J.B.
copyrighted it. In one interview, Papa Jack Laine said that the actual
composer of the number was Achille Baquet. Punch Miller claimed to have
originated the cornet & trombone breaks with Jack Carey, and that from
Carey's characteristic growl many locals called the tune "Play Jack Carey".
Jelly Roll Morton also claimed to have written the tune, basing part of it
on his jazzed up version of an old French quadrille.

While the exact details are unclear, it seems that at least something
similar to Tiger Rag or various strains of it was played in New Orleans
before the Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded it. How close these were to
the O.D.J.B.'s recording is a matter of speculation. The O.D.J.B.'s record
seems to have helped solidify a standard a version or head arrangement of
the number. Curiously, however, one strain in the O.D.J.B. recordings (just
before the famous "hold that tiger" chorus) is almost invariably left out of
later recordings and performances of the number.

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