[Dixielandjazz] Guitarist Lawrence Lucie Dies At 101

Robert Ringwald rsr at ringwald.com
Tue Aug 18 09:29:36 PDT 2009

For a sampling of Lawrence's rhythm guitar work....
he can be heard in the rhythm mode,
on several classic sides:

Benny Carter's "Symphony In Riffs/Devil's Holiday" - Columbia, 1933

Fletcher Henderson's "Wrappin' It Up/Limehouse Blues" - Decca, 1934

Teddy Wilson/Billie Holiday's "What A Little Moonlight Can Do/A Sunbonnet Blue" -
Brunswick, 1935

The Mills Blue Rhythm Band's "Merry-Go-Round/Until The Real Thing Comes Along" -
Columbia, 1936

Fletcher Henderson's "Moten Stomp" - Vocalion, 1938

Jelly Roll Morton's "West End Blues/Climax Rag" - Bluebird, 1939

Coleman Hawkins' "The Sheik Of Araby/My Blue Heaven" - Bluebird, 1940

Louis Armstrong's "Long Long Ago/I Cover The Waterfront" - Decca, 1941

 Jelly Roll Morton's New Orleans Jazzmen's from September 28, 1939,
"Climax Rag" on Bluebird Records {RCA}:

Lawrence Lucie, Guitarist With Jelly Roll Morton, Dies At 101
Published: August 17, 2009

Lawrence Lucie, a guitarist whose career began in the early years of jazz and continued
into the early years of the 21st century, died Friday in Manhattan. He was 101. His
death was confirmed by Sharon Linder, an administrator at the Kateri Residence, the
nursing and rehabilitation center in Manhattan where Mr. Lucie lived in recent years.

Mr. Lucie spent most of his career as a rhythm guitarist, rarely stepping forward
to solo. But he was a master of the underrated art of keeping the beat, and over
the years he kept it for some of the biggest names in jazz.

"The most amazing thing about him is how many great musicians he worked with," Dan
Morgenstern, the director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at
Rutgers University
, said at a party celebrating Mr. Lucie's 100th birthday. "It's like a whole living
history of jazz."

The list of Mr. Lucie's employers included
Duke Ellington
, with whom he worked for a few nights in the early 1930s, and
Louis Armstrong
, with whom he worked for four years in the 1940s. He also performed or recorded
Billie Holiday
Benny Carter
, Fletcher Henderson and many others. He was the last living musician known to have
recorded with the New Orleans jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton.

Lawrence Lucie was born in Emporia, Va., on Dec. 18, 1907. (Some sources give his
year of birth as 1914, but he confirmed the earlier date to an interviewer in 1981,
explaining, "In show business it doesn't always pay to tell your real age.") He began
studying banjo, mandolin and violin at an early age and played in a band led by his
father. He moved to New York at 19 to pursue a career as a musician.

Later in his career he performed and recorded with his wife, the guitarist and singer
Nora Lee King. The couple had their own public-access cable television show in Manhattan
for many years.

Mr. Lucie taught for three decades at
Borough of Manhattan Community College
. He performed with the New York Jazz Repertory Company and the Harlem Jazz and Blues
Band in the 1970s and with Panama Francis and the Savoy Sultans in the '80s and '90s.
His last show was at
 in Greenwich Village, where he played solo guitar on Sunday nights until 2005.

Information about survivors was not available. His wife, Ms. King, died during the


Related New York Times Story:

Living To 100, And Looking Back On A Legacy Of New York Jazz
Published: December 19, 2007

Lawrence Lucie, right, at his 100th birthday bash in Manhattan.
He played with Duke Ellington at Harlem's Cotton Club.

Lawrence Lucie no longer has the jet-black hair, the stylish suits or the dexterity
that made him one of the pre-eminent rhythm guitarists in the jazz world. But he
can still draw a crowd.

On the eve of his 100th birthday on Monday night, Mr. Lucie, sitting in a wheelchair,
could not go 20 seconds without receiving an embrace, a pat on the back or a handshake
from one of the many jazz connoisseurs gathered at the offices of the musicians'
union in Midtown Manhattan. The well-wishers were there to pay homage to his legacy.
And it is quite impressive.

He is the last living person to have performed with
Duke Ellington
 at New York's legendary Cotton Club. He played with
Benny Carter
 at the
Apollo Theater
 in 1934, the year it opened its doors to black customers. He played with
Louis Armstrong
 for several years and was the best man at his wedding.

"The most amazing thing about him is how many great musicians he worked with," said
Dan Morgenstern, the director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at
Rutgers University
, who was at the party. "It's like a whole living history of jazz. He's on so many
important records."

Though Mr. Lucie does not share the fame of some of the stars he played with, the
appreciation for him was clearly evident Monday night.

The celebration included performances by jazz musicians. People sang "Happy Birthday"
and showered him with gifts and cards. Mr. Lucie seemed to be taking all the attention
in stride.

After a woman greeted him with a kiss on the cheek, he smirked and said, "See, I
know everybody." Later, he pointed toward the birthday cards on a table in front
of him and said, "I've got a lot to read tomorrow."

Another celebration for Mr. Lucie was held on Tuesday at the Kateri Residence, a
nursing home on the Upper West Side, where he has lived for more than two years.
There, two men played guitar, Mr. Lucie was given three cakes, and he received a
letter signed by President Bush and his wife.

Mr. Lucie said he hoped to attend a party that the Duke Ellington Society was holding
in his honor on Wednesday night at St. Peter's Church, on Lexington Avenue at 54th

He said he could not have imagined all the publicity when he moved to New York from
his home in Virginia as a teenager more than 80 years ago to study guitar.
"I was just worried about playing," he said. "I just feel very lucky to be alive."

Mr. Lucie was born on Dec. 18, 1907, in Emporia, Va., and he started learning music
nearly as soon as he could walk. His father was a jazz musician who also worked as
a barber. By the time he was 8, Mr. Lucie was playing with his father's band, said
Phil Schaap, a jazz historian and professor at Juilliard.

When he was 19, Mr. Lucie moved to New York to pursue his passion for the guitar.
He worked as a barber during the day and studied at the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory,
Mr. Schaap said.

Around 1931, Mr. Lucie filled in for a week at the Cotton Club for Duke Ellington's
guitarist. Mr. Lucie's career blossomed between 1932 and 1934, when he played with
Benny Carter. After that, he worked with the likes of Fletcher Henderson, Coleman
Hawkins, Jelly Roll Morton and Billie Holiday.
"Larry had the goods," Mr. Schaap said.

Mr. Lucie taught guitar at the Borough of Manhattan Community College for more than
three decades, until about three years ago, Mr. Schaap said. In the 1970s, he started
a jazz show on a Manhattan cable TV station with his wife, Nora Lee King. It ended
when she died in the 1990s. Mr. Lucie played gigs in the city for most of the past
80 years. His final show was at Arturo's, a restaurant and bar in Greenwich Village,
where he gave a solo performance on Sunday nights until 2005.

Mr. Lucie said his father's advice helped him enjoy his success in jazz and his longevity.
"I didn't have but one woman at a time," he said. "I didn't drink a lot of whiskey.
I did what my father told me to do."

--Bob Ringwald K6YBV
rsr at ringwald.com
Fulton Street Jazz Band

Check out our latest recording at www.ringwald.com/recordings.htm

"I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that
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