Henry W. Ragas

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One of the first of many early deaths in jazz, Henry Ragas' one claim to fame was his association with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Ragas picked up experience as a solo pianist during 1910-13. He…
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One of the first of many early deaths in jazz, Henry Ragas' one claim to fame was his association with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Ragas picked up experience as a solo pianist during 1910-13. He went with Johnny Stein's band to Chicago in 1916 and, when several of the musicians left the group in order to form the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Ragas was among them. The ODJB, the first jazz group to ever record, became a major hit in 1917. Ragas was on the band's first 21 recordings (including "Bluin' The Blues" which he composed) although he is nearly inaudible due to the primitive recording technology of the era. Tragically shortly before the group was set to tour England (where they became a sensation), Henry Ragas was a victim of the 1919 flu epidemic and he died at the age of 27; J. Russell Robinson would be his permanent replacement with the ODJB.