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
|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|
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.
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