Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke (1903-1931)
Today is the 109th birthday of Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke, an American "hot jazz" legend who's been dead for 81 of those years. Bix was an alcoholic who never took a legal drink in his life. He was underage when Prohibition commenced in 1919, and died before it was repealed in 1933.
Jim Flora, who loved jazz, rendered a caricature of this revered cornetist on a 1947 Columbia Records 4-disc set. Last week we issued a limited edition fine art print of the illustration. Despite his brief, sordid life, Beiderbecke was one of the most influential musicians of the 1920s, the only decade commonly identified with a specific strain of music — "The Jazz Age." Bix lived it, and helped define it.
P.S. Bix and Flora also helped define this man's arm:
Photo: Julie Belcher/Yee-Haw Industries