Bix's House and the NRHP  The Plaque at 1600 Broadway International Jazz Hall of Fame
Bix's Cornet "Bix Lives", The Worshippers of Bix, The BBMJ B and, The BBMS The Summer of 1926 at the Blue Lantern Casino at Hudson Lake
The Sweet and Hot Music Foundation Walk of Fame The Bix Obituary in the Melody Maker An Article in a Davenport Newspaper With a Short Interview of Bix's Mother (in preparation)
A New Glance at Bix's Funeral
Guest Contribution by Jean-Paul Lion and Rich Johnson
A Letter from Bix to Nick LaRocca The Solos of Bix - Keys
Guest Contribution by Paul Bocciolone Strandberg

Bismark Herman Beiderbecke on Bix's Music A Discussion of Cornet Mouthpieces and Conn Victors Played by Bix. University of Iowa Record of Bix Enrollment
Bix's Famous Photo
When Did Bix Become Bix? (under construction
The Immortal Bix
The trip to Germany of Bismark and Agatha Beiderbecke
Bix in "Essential Jazz Records" Wolverines
Bix in "Essential Jazz Records" Bix  Gang

       In the August 1, 1940 issue of Down Beat magazine, Bix Beiderbecke was named for the
       "Immortals of Jazz" honor. Other jazz musicians in the group of "Immortals" are Fats Waller and   
        Jelly Roll Morton. The anouncement and write-up follow.

             Note the following corrections to errors in the text..
             1. Bix attended Davenport High School three and a half years.
             2. Bix left Whiteman in 1929.
             3. Bix did not play with the Casa Loma Orchestra.
             4. Bix died in his apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, on August 6, 1931. 

           Addendum.  (09/07/2005). Steve Hester kindly sent a list of all musicians honored by the Down
         Beat  "Immortals of Jazz" award. The first to receive the award was Red Nichols (Sep 1939); the
         last was Wingy Manone (Aug, 1941).

A Discussion of Cornet Mouthpieces and Conn Victors Played by Bix. Guest Column by Enrico Borsetti.
The first and foremost consideration, when comparing or contrasting cornet playing with trumpet playing, is purely stylistic. One can play the trumpet in a "cornet" style, or play the cornet in a "trumpet" style, if the distinction between the two is understood by the player (although the

former may be more effective than the latter). One must remember that the true cornet consisted of an almost entirely conical tubing that was mated to a conical mouthpiece which bore more resemblance to the French horn mouthpiece than to the bowl-shaped trumpet mouthpiece. The early cornet which combined the conical tubing with the conical mouthpiece, produced, in the hands of a good player, a beautiful, velvety, non-directional tone but with very little carrying brilliance. The “modern” cornet, which has been given a greater percentage of cylindrical tubing to increase its projection, is usually mated to a bowl-shaped mouthpiece like that of a trumpet. This results in very little distinction between the tone quality of the cornet and the trumpet.
There is a contingent of traditional jazz players who insist upon the correctness of the cornet, but I must note that I have never found a “modern” cornetist, playing in this genre, using a true cornet V shaped mouthpiece. Without exception, they all use the bowl-shaped mouthpiece. Bowl-shaped cornet mouthpieces were introduced by Vincent Bach in the mid 20's; they are longer (7 cm) and give more projection and brilliance to the tone. Vintage cornet mouthpieces (not Bach) prior to 1930 like Conn, York, Boosey, Holton, Buescher, King, are lighter in weight; they are all V shaped and
between 5,2 and 6,2 cm in length (I have a drawer full of vintage and current mouthpieces). I realize that the size of Bach mouthpieces vary with years: a vintage Bach trumpet mouthpiece number 5 or 7 is smaller in size and diameter than a 5 or a 7 made today; also the “throat” and the shape of the backbore is different, as I have measured using a digital caliper and other proper tools. I personally checked Bix’s Bach Stradivarius cornet ten years ago (thanks to Bob and Eva Christiansen) and it comes with a vintage 7 Bach mouthpiece (not a 7A like someone said in the forum).

About the matter “How many Conn cornets did Bix own?' Certainly, models 80A and 81A. This horn has been in the market since the late 1910's with CONN “NEW WONDER” stamped on the bell. Around 1920/21, it was renamed VICTOR. In more than three years, on many items posted on eBay, I saw some bells engraved with “VICTOR NEW WONDER”. On some others just there was no engraving, only the factory name. Victor’s were in production until the early 60’s. Vintage cornets have the Bb/A quick change mechanism. I have seen others without it, especially the ones made from the 30’s on. The most expensive models had full, custom engravings on the inside and
outside of the bell, and gold plating. The peculiar difference between a NEW WONDER and a VICTOR is in the valve bottom caps: the NEW WONDER has funnel shaped ones, the VICTOR has flat ones with mother pearl inlay. The NEW WONDER came out also in another version Bb/C, with rotary valve on bell tubing. In the early days, the factories of wind instruments made horns with different A of reference, standard A at 440 Hertz, A for other countries like Canada or New Zealand at around 452 Hertz. You could purchase a cornet or a trumpet which could be played in both countries since the case included extra slides, like the 81A. It was easy for brass, unlike saxophones, to quickly have a longer or a >shorter instrument just changing the slides. On the bottom of the sax was stamped an L or an H meaning low pitch or high pitch. Back to Bix, if you take a look at the photos in the Sudhalter and Evans or Evans and Evans books you can notice different cornet cases and cornets Bix used to have. The better photo with Bix holding the cornet is the one in Davenport on August 30th, 1921, holding an 80A. If you have the Venuti/Lang Columbia C2L 24 two LP’s set “STRINGIN’ THE BLUES”, in the inside book there’s a very large foto of Rollini’s New Yorkers from which you can see Bix holding an 81A model, the mouthpiece rim is closer to the bell curve, the leadpipe is shorter. Bix played on a V-shaped mouthpiece for sure, if not the Conn that came in
the cornet case. For images of Enrico Borsetti's cornets, go to cornet images. (be patient: it will take several seconds to download the file)
Helpful contributions from Thornton Hagert and Howard Linley are gratefully acknowledged. I  am profoundly grateful to Thomas Selleck, Dick Hadlock and Bill Donahoe. Without their help, this section could not have been written. The images of the carving of Bix by Thornton Hagert and of Lincoln Selleck mowing the lawn are through the courtesy of Dick Hadlock .The photograph of Lincoln holding Bix's record is courtesy of the Lincoln C. Selleck "Bix Lives" Jazz Award Competition Copyright C 1999. The image of Joe Ashworth and Bill Donahoe holding the "Bix Lives banner" was kindly provided by Bill Donahoe.

The Sweet and Hot Music Foundation Walk of Fame
   In the May 2002 issue of "Jazz Me News," Don Mospick writes, "The Sweet and Hot
Foundation has dedicated a series of beautiful commemorative plaques that are
permanently imbedded in the concrete around the poolside area of the L.A. Marriott Airport
Hotel. The tradition, launched during the first Sweet and Hot Music Festival in 1996, was
established to acknowledge the work of musicians and composers who have contributed to
America's Golden Age of popular music."

    The inductees in 1996 were Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, and Benny
Goodman. In 1997, the jazz musicians honored with a bronze plaque in the "Sweet and Hot
Music Foundation Walk of Fame" were Bix Beiderbecke, Ella Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, and
Thomas "Fats" Waller." For a complete list of inductees, go to To see what was written about Bix when he was
inducted, go to

I am indebted to Wally Holmes, director of the Sweet and Hot Music Festival, for permission to post the images, to Don Dade for kindly sending the scans, and to Gordon for his overall help.

The Bix Obituary in the Melody Maker.
    The Melody Maker issue of September 1931 carried an obituary about Bix. Enrico Borsetti scanned the page from the magazine and kindly sent to me for uploading it here. Scroll down until you see the article. Note that an incorrect date -August 7, 1931- is given. The correct date is August 6, 1931.


A New Glance At Bix's Funeral

Guest contribution by Jean Pierre Lion and Rich Johnson

Information about Bix’s funeral in Davenport is available, so far, in the two key books about our musician: “Bix, Man & Legend” by Richard M. Sudhalter and Philip Evans and “The Leon Bix Beiderbecke Story” by Philip Evans and Linda Evans.

The first book informs us that “Bix was buried the following Tuesday [August 11, 1931] after the largest funeral in the city’s memory. Radio station WOC devoted the day to Bix’s records (..). But not a single jazz musician or friend of Bix’s walked among the men who carried the coffin down the gravel drive in brilliant Iowa sunshine. ‘There was only one musician – from a wealthy family – in the lot’, said Wayne Rohlf. ‘He was a longhair violonist and orchestra conductor named Bill Henigbaum. The rest of the pallbearers were wealthy friends of the family, some of society’s upper crust. They were either selected by C.B. [Burnie] or by Bix’s folks.” (pages 334-5).
The names of five pallbearers are given on page 399 : George Von Maur, Louis Best, Karl Vollmer Jr., William Henigbaum Jr. and Dr. John Wormley.

Published 25 years later, the second book is much less “lyrical” and it reads :
"Aug. 9 (Sun) – Bix’s  body arrived by train in Davenport at 10:30 p.m. His remains were taken to Hill & Fredericks mortuary (Brady at 13th), where he lay in state.
Aug 11 (Tue) – Services were held this morning at 11 o’clock at the Hill & Fredericks chapel with the Rev. Leroy Coffman of the First Presbyterian Church officiating. Private burial services were held at the grave in Oakdale Cemetery."
The names of six pallbearers are given: the above five ones and Richard Von Maur. (page 549).
Page 550 gives the names of “Friends Who Called”: a limited list of nine persons.

One of us (JPL) wanted to know more about this ceremony, and the first question was: who were these people calling and attending? When asking about Bix and Davenport, the best door to knock on is, of course, Rich Johnson’s. What we found out  follows.

* Esten Spurrier, well known Bix’s friend and story-teller.

* Tal Sexton and wife. He was a musician, living in Rock Island, IL, and he was the trombone player with the Carlisle Evans band in Davenport in 1921 (his picture is on page 50 of “Bix, Man & Legend”).

* Ernie Bieberback = Ernest A. Bieberbach. He died in 1969 in Davenport, age 66, and was a “Mississippi riverboat trombonist. He and his brother Bill played with such riverboat bands as Minnie Fitzgerald and her Tropical Jazz Band, and the Burke-Leins Novelty Orchestra on the excursion steamer Capitol.”

* Tex Wright. He is probably Foster H. Wright, also a musician living in Rock Island,

* ? “Babe”. Unidentified person.

* Lewis M. Bruhn = Louis Bruhn, pianist with the Jimmy Hicks orchestra in December 1929,

* Trave O’Hearn. Well known local band leader; Bix played with his orchestra in Davenport in December 1929.

* William T. Bieberback.  Ernest’s brother (see above) ; “Bill Bieberbach, a professional trumpet player, who was often host to Bix Beiderbecke, died in 1965.”

All these visitors were  musicians and Bix’s personal friends, even if only in limited number.

* Louis Best. VP of Robert Krause Co., a garments store, located at 113-115 W. 2nd Street in Davenport, next to the Beiderbecke & Miller Wholesale Grocers (Bix’s grand-father’s store),

* George Von Maur. Sec. Treasurer for Henry Von Maur, Inc.; George Von Maur is featured among the persons interviewed by Jim Arpy for his Quad-City Times’ article, “People who knew Bix”. He was older than Bix, and his parents knew Bix’s folks.

* Richard Von Maur: Treasurer for the JHC Petersen Co., a big department-store in Davenport’s 2nd Street, located next to Robert Krause Co. Bix’s brother, Charles ‘Burnie’, was at a time in charge of its music-department. Petersen-Von Maur still owns major stores in Davenport today.

* Karl Vollmer. VP of Motor Service Inc., his father was a doctor. Bix refers to him in a letter to his mother, dated May 7, 1920, where he wrote: “tonight I’m taking Vera L.C. to the R.I. Class play with Karlie Vollmer”,

* William K. Henigbaum. Treasurer of Iowa Furniture / Huebotter Furniture Co. He was born in 1897 (died in 1979) and a close friend of ‘Burnie’ and his wife Mary. His son, William Henigbaum, born in 1921, is the “longhair violonist” mentioned in “Bix, Man & Legend”. He did not attend the funeral and lives today in North Carolina, where he still teaches violin students.

* Dr. John Wormley. He was a prominent Davenport dentist, and was in his late 40’s at that time. He was probably a friend of Bix’s parents.

These pallbearers were definitely belonging to the Davenport “upper class”, all members of the selected Outing Club (where the wedding of Bix’s sister had taken place in 1924).

Les Swanson is today 97. He remembers quite well the ceremony at the Hill & Fredericks’ chapel. Some fifty to sixty persons attended the service, almost exclusively men. Les was surprised not to meet with any other musicians, as he expected Esten Spurrier, at least, to be there… and he was not. Les stayed by himself, at the rear of the chapel, and left after the ceremony, speaking to no one. Burial services at the cemetery were private and limited to family’s members. The local radio-station did pay a short tribute to Bix : during a dance-broadcast, a text was read and pianist Bert Sloan played “In A Mist”. And that was it! It was hardly “the largest funeral in the city’s memory”…!

Searching for these elements, Rich Johnson was able to unearth new information related to Bix.

To see a copy of  Bix's funeral booklet, visit "FuneralBooklet".

A Letter From Bix to Nick LaRocca

The following letter was written by Bix Beiderbecke on Monday, 22nd Nov., 1922, on the
train from Chicago to Davenport. It is addressed to Mr. D. Jas LaRocca, 225 West 11th St.,
New York City, N.Y. We have included a transcript of the text on the next two pages,
including the post-script which we were unable to reproduce in its entirety.
From Storyville No. 9 (Feb-March 1967) pages 29-31. Also transcribed in Evans and Evans, Bix: The Leon Bix Beiderbecke Story, p. 122.

Dear Nick,

Am on my way home from Chi thot Id take the opportunity to write you the dope.

I saw Mike Fritzel last night and he seemed impressed when I told him about you boys
wanting to come to Chi and that you would consider the Friars Inn if everything – "Do" and
hours were satisfactory – I sure poured it on thick. Well Nick Mike wanted to know the dope
in regard to the money you boys wanted etc. and I said that you would write him the full
particulars that I just didn't know. All I knew was that you were the best lead in the
country. Well he expects a letter from you Nick. I'm sending your address to him so he can
wire you – I was supposed to meet him today at 3'clock I left early so I left your address
addressed to him at Friars.

You write him about what combination you'll have and everything else. I told him that you
just made a record which pleased him – His adddress is Mike Fritzel, Friars Inn. Chi.

Well Nick I wish you the best of luck – give the boys my best and tell that clarinette player
to expect some "do" right soon & also tell him he's the best boy I've ever met.


B. Beiderbecke.

Rapollo & the band are moving in about a week they aren't going to New York for a while –
it ap.

Also sends you Eddie & Tony his regards.

I am grateful to Fredrik Tersmeden for sending me a copy of the letter.

The Solos of Bix - Keys

Guest Contribution by Paul Bocciolone Strandberg

Big Boy
I Didn't Know
Davenport Blues
Singin' the Blues
Slow River
Humpty Dumpty
Jazz Me Blues
Cryin' All Day
A Good Man Is Hard To Find
Mississippi Mud
Show Boat
Somebody Stole My Gal
Forget Me Not
You Took Advantage Of Me
That's My Weakness Now
Out of Town Gal
Bless You Sister
Ol' Man River
High Up On a Hill Top
Raisin' the Roof
I Like That
Oh! Miss Hannah

--Ab --
Tiger Rag
Proud of a Baby Like You
Hoosier Sweetheart
Ostrich Walk
Riverboat Shuffle (2)
Three Blind Mice (1)
There Ain't No Land
Just an Hour of Love
Three Blind Mice (2)
Lonely Melody
Back in Your Own Backyard
Because My Baby Don't Mean Maybe Now
Sweet Sue
Sentimental Baby
No One Can Take Your Place
Barnacle Bill the Sailor

Jazz Me Blues (1)
Oh Baby
Riverboat Shuffle (1)
Clarinet Marmalade
I'm Coming Virginia
There Ain't No Sweet Man
Love Nest, The (1)
Love Nest, The (2)
Baby Won't You Please Come Home
Futuristic Rhythm
Reaching For Someone
China Boy
Deep Harlem
I Don't Mind Walking In the Rain
I'll Be a Friend with Pleasure

--Bb --
I Need Some Pettin'
Royal Garden Blues (1)
Royal Garden Blues (2)
Since My Best Gal Turned Me Down
There'll Come a Time
From Monday On
Strut Miss Lizzie

--C --
Tia Juana
Krazy Kat
There's a Cradle in Caroline
Felix the Cat
Tain't So Honey, 'tain't So
Deep Down South

--G --
Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
Our Bungalow Of Dreams
Love Affairs
Loved One

--Db --
Goose Pimples

--D --
Waiting At the End Of the Road

The solos of Bix are played in the following keys:
Eb 31
Ab 20
F 17
Bb 8
C 8
G 5
Db 1
D 1

I did not count alternate takes or re-recordings of the same arrangement (From Monday On). Of course, what is a solo is not scientifically defined in this context. I consider the first chorus of "Ol' Man River" as a solo for Bix, as well as the verse on "A Good Man Is Hard To Find". On the other hand, I don't count his ad lib playing on "I'm Looking Over A Four-Leaf Clover" or "In My Merry Oldsmobile" as solos.
The reason that some keys are more comfortable than others depends on the tuning of the instrument. Since most musicians use Bb-tuned instruments -such as trumpet, clarinet and tenor sax- the five most common keys in jazz are Bb, Eb, F, Ab and C. The oddest in the above list is the solo in D natural on "Waiting at the End of the Road". Neither Bix nor his colleagues where limited to play in certain keys. In Bix's case he got a good training to improvise and formulate his musical ideas in any key from playing along with records. By adjusting the speed he could practice his cornet in the new keys that resulted from this. It is said in the Sudhalter-Evans biography that he preferred the key of Eb on the cornet but this he had in common with many others and many popular melodies as well as military and classical music fit with the cornet in this key. The choice of key normally depends on the range of the instrument and the range of the song that is going to be played; but when it comes to improvising freely, the facility of fingering and the response of the instrument on certain notes may have big importance for the performer.
In most cases Bix had no influence over the choice of key when a stock-arrangement was recorded and when he only had a short solo to play in a big band arrangement. In many cases the key of a tune is fixed as when you play standard tunes like Royal Garden Blues (solo in Bb), China Boy (F), and Tiger Rag (Ab)
We can note some examples when he changed keys from the common ones. "Jazz Me Blues" was changed from F as with The Wolverines to Eb when he was in charge of his own "gang". From ODJB he changed the key of Margie from F to Eb also. The early recording of "Riverboat Shuffle" was in F while the one he made with Trumbauer contained a solo in Ab.
In some tunes the intentions of the composer are respected; this results in performing in less common keys, as for example "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans" (G) or "Goose Pimples" (Db). This shows that Bix and his session mates did not change key to facilitate matters, which has often been the case in latter days performances of the original jazz.
(About Bix's piano playing it is said that he preferred to play everything in C, but from there he would make excursions anywhere and use all kinds of colorings. He probably did not often do a full performance in public on the piano and thus did not need to use different keys for variation.)

I am grateful to Paul for choosing to publish his analysis of the keys of Bix's solos in the Bixogrphy. February 4, 2003.

Bismark Herman Beiderbecke on Bix's Music
The accepted dogma in Bixology is that Bix had poor relations with his father. I do not
agree, but that is a question that I will address in the future, not in the present post. What
is clear is that Evans and Evans provide no information about what Herman had to say
about Bix's music and his life. There is one exception that I can remember. It has to do with
the time when Marty Bloom hired Bix to play with the Orpheum Time Band Revue. According
to Bloom (E & E, p. 110-111), around May 24, 1922 the band was rehearsing when Bix's
father appeared. Following a conversation between Bix and his father, Bix told Bloom, "I'm
sorry to do this to you, but I've got to go back to Davenport, today with my father." There
are a couple of letters from Bix to his father, but I can't think of an account of Bismark
talking about Bix's music.

The February 16, 1938 issue of "The New Republic" included an article -Swing Music- by
Charles Edward Smith. In the article, Smith discusses the origins of jazz. As he mentions
various musicans, Smith writes the following about Bix,

"He had proved a natural genius to start with, having an unerring tonal and rhythmic sense.
And so, about the time King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band was sending them at a Chicago drink
and dance place, this young man was setting up to capture the world as the ad-libbing
genius of the Original Wolverines. He arrived on the big time with Jean Goldkette's
sensational band, and when that broke up went to Whiteman. Contrary to popular opinion,
he could read and write music, but -since he improvised and since Whiteman by his own
statement was aware that Bix could get more music into three notes than all the rest of
the band in a full chorus- he was given blank spaces to play while with the Whiteman
orchestra. When Bix came home, his father reported afterwards, he would talk so much
about his admiration for the work of such other musicians as Red Nichols and Hoagy
Carmichael that the folks never realized his own superlative qualities and fame.

The statement attributed to Bix's father is very significant. It shows, for the first time I
believe, that Bix's father knew some names of jazz musicians and talked about Bix and his
fellow musicians to someone, jazz historians perhaps? One of the names is not surprising
at all, that of Hoagy. We know of the long and close friendship of Hoagy and Bix. Red
Nichols' name may be surprising to some, especially since there are accounts of Bix making
negative comments about Red's musicianship. However, it is clear that Bix and Red were
good friends. They met in 1924, they roomed and drank together in subsequent years, and
one of the last phone calls -if not the last- that Bix made in his much too short life was to
Red Nichols.

Finally, it is relevant, in the context of the recent thread about Bix's reading skills, what
Smith has to say on the subject. Unfortunately, Smith simply makes the assertion about Bix
being able to read and write music, but provides no references.

When Did Bix Become Bix?

University of Iowa Record of Bix Enrollment (uploaded December 3, 2003)

Bix enrolled at the University of Iowa in the Spring Semester 1925. His tenure in school did not last long: just 18 days, from February 2 to February 20, 1925. What follows is the only extant document in the archives of the University of Iowa.

The document is practically illegible. Here is the information of interest.

The two handwritten notations read as follows
    Not permitted to continue 2-20-25
    Indefinitely suspended and not permitted to re-register until officially restored to good standing 2-24-25

A few comments.
1. Note that Bix give his year of birth as 1904. Error on Bix's part or on the part of the person who typed the form? Done by Bix on Purpose?
2. Bix gives only the Davenport High School as "Institutions Previously Attended." Bix fails to mention his year in Lake Forest Academy. Oversight? Concealed on purpose?
3. The course schedule is slightly different from the one given in Evans and Evans.


A Myth A Myth A Myth 

A Myth Demolished: The Photo of Bix Purportedly Taken in Davenport in 1921 was taken in 1924.  (posted May 10, 2006)

A few years ago,  Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr., sent me a provocative message. Fred wrote, "The famous photo you have posted on the top of your website is not the 1921 photo taken in Davenport with Fritz Putzier. That photo is lost, if it ever existed. What you display is a photo from the Wolverine photo sessions. An individual shot of Bix."

Let's go back a couple of years to the Tribute to Bix of 1999 in Libertyville. On the Saturday of the meeting, Phil Pospychala showed a large photo of Bix found in a flea market in Florida. Some people thought that the photo could be an alternate pose of the photo taken in Davenport in 1921. I had seen that photo in the inside cover of Klaus Scheuer's "Bix Beiderbecke: Sein Leben, Sein Musik, Sein Schallplatten." The photo was not a portrait of Bix. It was a close-up enlargement of Bix from a photo with the Wolverines taken in Cincinnati in 1924. To see the photo of the Wolverines, go to

You will see Bix in the center and slightly to the right of the photo, in a pose very similar to the alleged 1921 photo. I left Libertyville early on Sunday, and, as soon as arrived home, I sent Phil a fax with the photo of Bix from Scheuer's book and the explanation that the Wolverines photo was cropped and enlarged to look like a portrait of Bix. I assumed that the similarity between what I thought was the 1921 photo and the photo of Bix enlarged from the Wolverine photo was due to Bix's propensity to sit in a certain way and to hold his cornet in his right hand and resting on his right leg. However, Fred message convinced me that what we know as the 1921 Davenport photo was, in fact, taken in 1924 in Cincinnati, probably within minutes of the photo of the Wolverine orchestra.

To see the so-called 1921 photo side by side with the enlargement of the cropped photo of the Wolverines, go to

For a different view go to

Fred provides the following analysis of the two photos. "Here are the two Bix photos in question side by side at about the same size. Even with the different printing processes, they are almost identical. The left photo is a solo so Bix is more engaging with the camera. The body language is very similar as he's spread outa little and turned somewhat to his left. In the right hand shot he's a little crowded, pulled in his leg, has unbuttoned his coat, put his fingers around the valves and clenched his other hand. The cuffs have the same cut and flair out. The hankie is almost the same shape. The tie is crooked in both and has the exact same wrinkles. The collar over the tie is the same in each photo and the way the tie is exposed around the neck. The jacket sleeves are way too long and bunched up and wrinkled in the same exact folds. It's more apparent in the stand up shot holding the banner. The vest is forcing up the shirt in the same manner with identical central white line. The way the horn bell sits on his knee is in the exact same position. The wrinkles in his crotch and the way the light hits them are the same. For these two photos to have been taken three years apart is hard for me to believe."

I think Fred's analysis and comparison of the two photos provides a compelling argument for the inference that they were taken on the same day, minutes apart. Since, we know the date of the Wolverine photo (1924,  in Cincinnati, ), the inescapable conclusion is that the famous photo of Bix was also taken in 1924.

There is some supporting evidence for this conclusion. In his book "The Stardust Road", Hoagy Carmichael includes, between pages 122 and 123, the famous photo of Bix with his cornet. The caption reads, "Bix (Leon ) Beiderbecke. Photograph taken about 1924." In his book "Twelve Lives in Jazz", Duncan Schiedt provides a good quality copy and writes the caption, "The classic Beiderbecke portrait, probably taken in 1922, either in Davenport, or (more probably) in Chicago." In their book "A Pictorial History of Jazz", Keepnews and Grauer write the following caption for the famous photo, "Leon 'Bix' Beiderbecke in 1923."

Where does the myth come from? Fritz Putzier wrote to Phil Evans on 4/18/73, "Probably the most appropriate photo would be the one taken with Bix the day we had on our tuxedos, prior to going to Moline toplay for he opening of the bank [August 30, 1921;ed.]. I wish I could remember what possessed us to do such a thing, neither of us were show-offs. I don't remember any pending occasion that required the use of our picturs. Perhaps it was a youthful, enthusiastic whim and a feeling of importance, all dressed up in tuxedos. It prompted one of us, probably me, knowing Bix as I did, to suggest a picture." (Evans and Evans; Bix: The Leon Beiderbecke Story, p.62). The account in Sudhalter and Evans' "Bix: Man and Legend" goes as follows. " Bix, meanwhile was keeping only too busy. Ralph Miedke hired him for the grand opening on Tuesday, August 30, of the Moline State Trust and Savings Bank. The band was scheduled to play form 1 to 6 P. M., and for the first time in his life the younger Beiderbecke had to wear a tuxedo. "How do I look, mother?' he asked, turning in the bedroom miror. Aggie, full of doubt over her son's future, had nevertheless to admit that he cut a handsome figure. Bix took the stairs two at a time, stopping only to grab his cornet. 'Where are you off to?' his mother asked, puzzled. "It's only nine in the morning, and you don't have to play for another four hours.' Bix laughed. ' Fritz [Putzier, ed.] and I are going to have our pictures taken in these li'l ol' fancy suits.' And out the door he bounded. The photograph taken that August morning in 1921 has become the model by which Bix Beiderbecke is now recognized." The photos of Fritz Spurrier and Bix are given in the page opposite the text, courtesy of Fritz Putzier. Clearly, the story comes for Fritz.

Two final points. Fred writes, "The lighting on the Putzier picture is totally different." Indeed, they are. There are few photos of Bix from 1921, 1922. They can be found in pages 101-103, 106, 107, 113-115 of Evans and Evans. No photos are available in 1923. The 1922 photos are of poor quality. Nevertheless, I believe I can tell that Bix did not part his hair at that time.

All in all, it seems clear to me that the famous photo of Bix, generally accepted to have been taken in Davenport in 1921, was taken in 1924, probably in Chicago.

Here is a vintage postcard of the State Trust and Savings Bank, Moline IL.

The following is a photo (without Bix) of the Ralph Miedke Society Orchestra.

I thank Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr. for the scan of the  photos of Bix side by side, and Rich Johnosn for the scans of the photos of the Moline Bank and of the Miedke band.
The Trips to Germany of Louise Beiderbecke and of Agatha and Bismark Beiderbecke. (Uploaded Nov 17, 2006)
Bix's grandparents were Carl Beiderbecke (changed his first name to Charles) and Louisa Pieper (changed to Louise Piper). Charles was born in Westphalia, Prussia in 1836. and died in Davenport in 1901. Louise was born in Hamburg, Prussia in 1840 and died in 1922 in Davenport while Bix had an engagement in Syracuse. Charles and Louise came to America  in 1853, but in different ships and at different times of the year.  Charles and Louise went to Davenport in 1856, but not at the same time. They met in Davenport and got married in 1860. They built their home at 532 W. 7th Street in 1880. Louise lived in the home she and Charles built until her death in 1922.

Charles and Louise had four children: Carl Thomas, Ottilie, Bismark Herman, and Lutie. Bismark was Bix's father. 

Bix did not know either of his grandgfathers, but was quite close to Louise (oma). According to Leon "Skis" Wernetin, a high school classmate of Bix's, "He and his grandma were great buddies. Her piano was one of the big attractions for Bix. When we'd go to the silent nickel movies, Bix didn't care about the plot. He just wanted to hear the guy who played piano accompaniment. As soon as the show was over, he'd hurry back to his grandma's to play on her piano what he'd just heard. He was just as crazy then as he was later, not afraid of anything. He was quite a character even as a kid. His grandma was quite a character, too, and a good piano player. She was always ready to have him play the piano and I guess she was quite proud of him. But we kids never realized he was that good." [July 24, 1988 issue of the Quad-City Times].

Louise visited Germany in 1907. She was accompanied by her son Carl. They came back on the Grosser Kurfurst which arrived in New York on September  17, 1907. Both Louise and Carl are described as US citizens. Carl's name is actually given as Charles. Here are the passenger's records for Charles and Louise from the Ellis Island records..

First Name: Charles T.
Last Name: Beiderbecke
Last Place of Residence:
Date of Arrival: Sep 17, 1907
Age at Arrival:  42y    Gender:  M    Marital Status:    
Ship of Travel: Grosser Kurfurst
Port of Departure: Cherbourg, France

First Name: Louise
Last Name: Beiderbecke
Last Place of Residence:
Date of Arrival: Sep 17, 1907
Age at Arrival:  67y    Gender:  F    Marital Status:  M  
Ship of Travel: Grosser Kurfurst
Port of Departure: Cherbourg, France
Manifest Line Number: 0003

According to, "The Grosser Kurfurst was a steel-hulled, twin-screw, passenger-and cargo steamship launched on 2 December 1899 at Danzig, Germany, by the shipbuilding firm of F. Schichau for the Norddeutscher Lloyd Line—made her maiden voyage to Asiatic and Australian ports before commencing regularly scheduled voyages from the spring of 1900 between Bremen, Germany, and New York City which continued until the summer of 1914." Here is an image of the ship.

It makes sense that Louise wished to see her native country and relatives. She had come to the US as a 13-year old girl. By 1907, she had been in the US for 54 years. Her husband had died six years earlier and she had an excellent financial situation. In 1907, Louise was 67 years old, and it makes sense that she would not want to undertake the long trip overseas by herself. Thus, her oldest son Carl Thomas accompanied her.

In 1930, Carl visited Germany again. This time he went with his wife Adele, his brother Bismark and his sister in law Agatha. Here is the listing from

Note the misspellings in Bismark's first name and middle initial (should be H). Also Carl's middle initial is misspelled  (should be T). One more minor point. Carl's birth date is given as 24 Dec 1864. Evans and Evans give 24 Dec 1865. Here is the original manifest.

The two Beiderbecke brothers and their wives left Hamburg, Germany on the S.S. Cleveland and arrived in New York on 11 Aug 1930. We see that Bismark's and Agatha's destination was New York, whereas Carl's and Adele's destination was Boston.

The S.S. Cleveland was one  of the ships of the Hamburg America Line. Built in 1908, it made its maiden voyage Hamburg-Southampton-Cherbourg-New York on Mar 29, 1909.

Here is a postcard with an image of the S.S. Cleveland.

When Bix's parents arrived in New York, Bix was a member of the Camel Pleasure Hour Orchestra. Bix had been with the Camel Pleasure Hour since its premiere on June 4, 1930. It is not known when Bix's parents left New York for Germany. Presumably sometime in July. It is highly likely that Bix's parents visited his son on their way to Germany as well as on their return from Germany. There is corroborating evidence that indeed Bix's parents visited Bix. According to Sudhalter and Evans, "Even Bismark and Agatha, encouraged at this turn of events, made the long journey east to visit their son during a broadcast in NBC's studio B on Fifth Avenue. Bix, John Wiggin recalled, took speical pride in introducing his parents to the friends on the show." John Wiggin was the producer of the Camel Pleasure Hour. Bix's parents visit during one of the broadcasts could have taken place either as they were on their way to Germany or on their way back, in July-August 1930.

I am grateful to German Bixophile Friedrich Hachenberg [Acknowledgment. I wish to thank Karl Gert zur heide.].for kindly and generously sending me all the information about Bix's parents visit to Germany in 1930. 

Bix In "Essential Jazz Records"

From "Essential Jazz Records, Vol. 1: Ragtime to Swing" by Max Harrison,  Eric Thacker  and Charles Fox,  Mansell, 1999.

Review of the Wolverine Records.

Review of the Bix and His Gang Records

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A Brief Biography  Articles in Magazines The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society
Bix's Musical Genius Video Tapes  Items of Special Interest
Biographies Audio Tapes Information of Related Interest
Chapters in Books Museums A Stamp for Bix in 2003
Scholarly Dissertations Miscellaneous Links to Related Sites
Obituaries Readers' Queries and Remarks Celebration of Bix's Musical Legacy

The Original 78's
Analysis of Some Recordings: Is It Bix or Not ?
Complete Compilations of Bix's Recordings
Tributes to Bix
Miscellaneous Recordings Related to Bix
In A Mist