Tom Turpin

Thomas Million John Turpin (November 18, 1871 – August 13, 1922) was an African-American composer of ragtime music.

Tom Turpin was born in Savannah, Georgia, a son of John L. Turpin and Lulu Waters Turpin. In his early twenties he opened a saloon in St. Louis, Missouri which became a meeting-place for local pianists and an incubation point for early folk ragtime, such as musician Joe Jordan. Turpin himself is credited with the first published rag by an African-American, his "Harlem Rag" of 1897 (it was composed by 1892, a year before ragtime's introduction to the world at the 1893 Worlds Fair). His other published rags include "Bowery Buck," "Ragtime Nightmare," "St. Louis Rag," and "The Buffalo Rag".

Turpin was a large man, six feet (1.83 m) tall and 300 pounds (136 kg); his piano had to be raised on blocks so that he could play it standing up, otherwise his stomach would get in the way. In addition to his saloon-keeping duties and his ragtime composition, he controlled (with his brother Charles) a theater, gambling houses, dance halls, and sporting houses. He served as a deputy constable and was one of the first politically powerful African-Americans in St. Louis. His influence on local music earned him the title "Father of St. Louis Ragtime."

Birth and Death Data: Born 1873 (Savannah), Died St. Louis

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1904 - 1910

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-1154 10-in. 3/23/1904 St. Louis rag Arthur Pryor's Orchestra Orchestra composer  
Victor E-1154 8-in. 4/20/1906 St. Louis rag Pryor's Orchestra [i.e., Victor Orchestra] Orchestra composer  
Victor A-1154 7-in. 3/23/1904 St. Louis rag Arthur Pryor's Orchestra Orchestra composer  
Victor B-3006 10-in. 1/16/1906 St. Louis rag Chris Chapman Bells solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-3049 10-in. 1/26/1906 The Buffalo rag Vess L. Ossman Banjo solo, with piano composer  
Victor B-3853 10-in. 10/5/1906 St. Louis rag Chris Chapman Xylophone solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor E-3853 8-in. 10/5/1906 St. Louis rag Chris Chapman Xylophone solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-3900 10-in. 10/15/1906 St. Louis rag march United States Marine Band Band composer  
Victor B-6848 10-in. 3/2/1909 The Buffalo rag Vess L. Ossman Banjo solo composer  
Columbia 3360 10-in. ca. 1905-Apr. 1906 The buffalo rag Vess L. Ossman Banjo solo, with orchestra composer  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Turpin, Tom," accessed October 29, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/105784.

Turpin, Tom. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/105784.

"Turpin, Tom." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 29 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/105784

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