Music History

It was W.C. Handy who first made his mark on the world of music in connection with St. Louis.

While standing on the Mississippi River bank he was inspired to write song called „The St. Louis Blues“ which has become one of the world’s most recorded songs, forever cementing St. Louis‘ place in the world of American roots music.

Handy's contemporary, Scott Joplin, was a regular in the night spots around St. Louis during the time of the 1904 World's Fair. His ragtime tunes were Rock'n'Roll of the era—the music of the counter culture. Some of Joplin's most important works were created while he played for society during the day, and in the sporting houses and clubs of St. Louis at night.

The success of Joplin’s and Handy’s music caused a great migration of blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta region. The integration of these musical styles created a sound that took its name from Handy's famous composition and became known as the St. Louis blues.

In the late 40's and early 50's, the St. Louis blues were joined by a new sound - rhythm and blues. Developed in the nightclubs of St. Louis and Memphis, the sound was described as a driving dance beat combined with a bluesy delivery. Ike and Tina Turner were at the forefront of this St. Louis sound, and R&B quickly grew to fill a popular music void created after the end of the Big Band jazz ear. Bands from St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans took to the road, playing nightclubs and dancehalls across America. Soon, St. Louis' distinctive and innovative musical style spread across the country and around the world.


location go to a glimpse at the movie

a bit on St. Louis music history
music history

a close look at the arch
the arch

the 1904 World's Fair at St. Louis
go to: "Live(s) on the Mississippi" overview
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St. Louis