gonna to sing you a hundred verses in ragtime,
I know this song it aint never gonna end.
I'm gonna march you up and down along the county line,
Take you to the leader of a band.
like Crazy Otto, just like Wolfman Jack,
Sittin' plush with a royal flush, aces back to back.
- Excerpt from Ramble On Rose: The Grateful
Maddox is one of the leading ragtime piano players of all
time. He was already America's number one jukebox artist when
in 1954 he recorded "The Crazy Otto Medley". It spent 14 weeks at the top of
the charts, and became the first all-piano record in history to sell over 1,000,000
copies, eventually selling over 2,000,000.
Maddox was born on August 4, 1927 in Gallatin, Tennessee. His
interest in the era of ragtime and blues was fueled by his Aunt
Zula Cothron. She played ragtime piano at the 1904 Louisiana
Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, and taught Johnny to play.
Johnny played his first public concert when he was only five.
He began his professional career when he was 12 years old.
worked with his friend, Randy Wood, at Randy's Record Shop in
Gallatin when Randy launched Dot Records in 1950. In fact, Johnny
was the first artist of Dot Records, and his instant success
helped build Dot into one of the most successful labels in the
50's. His very first single "Crazy Bone Rag" with
"St. Louis Tickle" on the flip side sold over 22,000
copies in 5 weeks. He continued to record for Dot through their
acquisition by MCA into the 1970's. During his career with Dot
and MCA, Johnny recorded 50 albums and around 90 singles. From these
he racked up 9 gold singles with total record sales of over
11,000,000. Johnny even has his own star on Hollywood Boulevard.
knew and played with many of the leading ragtime artists as
well as many of the major artists of the 50's including: Patsy
Cline, Eddie Arnold, W. C. Handy, Joe Jordan, Charles L. Johnson,
Clyde McCoy, Ted Lewis, Tony Pastor, Lawrence Welk, Sammy Kay
and Eddy Howard. Johnny has played in every state except Oregon
and Hawaii. He has played Las Vegas and appeared on countless
shows including the Milton Berle show.
C. Handy called Johnny Maddox "the white boy with the colored
fingers" after hearing him play in 1952. Johnny plays his music
in the original dance tempos. His immediately recognizable,
rollicking style, brings so vividly to life the era of ragtime
is a noted musicologist and collector of ragtime and early American
music. His collection includes over 30,000 78rpm records, Edison
wax cylinders and piano rolls. His sheet music collection is
conservatively estimated at 200,000 pieces, 3,000 of which
he knows by heart.
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