You Are At: AllSands Home > History > People > Eubie Blake biography
Eubie Blake, the son of former slaves, was the oldest living connection to ragtime in the early eighties. As composer and performer of ragtime, his music career, though not continuous, spanned eight decades. Blake began playing music at the age of four when he started playing the family's pump organ. He began his career in music by playing piano in brothels and bars at 15. Later he partnered with Noble Sissle to create a vaudeville act called the Dixie Duo. The two continued their partnership by creating SHUFFLE ALONG, one of the first musicals to be written, produced, and directed by blacks. Blake took a 23 year break from show business in the middle of his life, earning a degree from New York University during that interim. Later in life he returned to show business and created his own music label, Eubie Blake Music, in his nineties. He was performing until he was 99 and lived to be 100 years old before dying five days after his birthday.

CHRONOLOGY

1883 He was born James Hubert Blake in Baltimore, Maryland. (February 7) (His birthday is in some dispute, there is compelling evidence he may not have been born until 1887)

1898 He began playing ragtime piano in brothels, honky tonks, and bars.

1899 He wrote his first rag, "The Charleston Rag."

1908 He composed "Tricky Fingers."

1914 He composed "Chevy Chase."

1915 He met Noble Sissle who would later become his partner.

1921 SHUFFLE ALONG debuted on Broadway.

1925 He and Sissle broke up.

1946 He retired from show business.

1969 He returned to show business by recording THE EIGHTY-SIX YEARS OF EUBIE BLAKE.

1978 He appeared in the Broadway show, EUBIE.

1981 He was awarded the Medal of Freedom.

1982 He gave his last public concert.

1983 He died in Brooklyn, New York. (February 12)