Happy Birthday Joe ‘King’ Oliver – The Co-Founder of Jazz Music

Joe "King" Oliver
Joe “King” Oliver
Joe "King" Oliver
Joe "King" Oliver

Joseph ‘King’ Oliver was born on May 11, 1885 in Aben, Louisiana. He was one of the first, and greatest practitioners of American Jazz.


Oliver professionally started music at the age of fifteen and the young cornetist improvised new style in brass band in with Trombonist Kid Ory in the 1910’s.

Oliver’s new style influenced the public and he achieved great reputation in New Orleans, where he personally taught a young musician named Louis Armstrong.

As King Oliver and his band marched through the tough, turn-of-the-century section of Storyville in New Orleans, he attracted the customers, who followed behind him as he led them to straight into his night club.

“The king of all the musicians was Joe Oliver, the best trumpeter who ever played in New Orleans…No one in Jazz has created as much music as he has, Almost everything important in music today came from him,” Louis Armstrong wrote in his 1954 memoir, “Satchmo.”

“That is why they called him “King,” he deserved the title,” Armstrong continued. “Musicians from all over the world used to come hear Joe Oliver when he was playing at the Lincoln Gardens in Chicago and he never failed to thrill them.”

In 1920, King Oliver formed his own band called King Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band and this band was the most hot nightclub act in both Los Angles and Chicago.

He sent for Louis Armstrong, who was making a name for himself in New Orleans at the time as well.

Louis accepted Oliver’s invitation and joined his band, which produced songs like “Jazzin’ Babies Blues,” “Tomcat,” “King Porter Stomp,” “Tin Roof Blues.”

When sound was introduced to film and Louis Armstron left for a solo career, King Oliver tried his hand in New York.

Unfortunatly he found little influence outside Chicago.

When the Great Depression wiped out his life savings, King Oliver was forced to work as a janitor in Savannah, Georgia.

He subsequently died penniless and broke on April 10th, 1938.

Joe ‘King’ Oliver was buried is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

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