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Busch, Lou(is) [Bush, Louis Ferdinand; Carr, Joe ‘Fingers’]locked

  • Ian Whitcomb

(b Louisville, KY, July 18, 1910; d Camarillo, CA, Sept 19, 1979). American ragtime pianist, composer and recording executive. At the age of 16 he left home to tour as a pianist with the Clyde McCoy band, a popular dance orchestra of the 1930s. He later served as a pianist and arranger with a series of big bands, notably those of George Olsen, Ray Noble, Vincent Lopez and Henry Busse. In 1941 he settled in Los Angeles and, after a period as accompanist to Lena Horne, was employed by the newly formed West Coast record label Capitol. When Euday L. Bowman’s Twelfth Street Rag (recorded in 1948 by Pee Wee Hunt) sold more than 3 million copies worldwide, Busch was placed in charge of Capitol's artists and repertory department and invited to capitalize on the success of the recording. He then adopted his pseudonym, Joe ‘Fingers’ Carr, and agreed to be marketed on record covers as a typical black bar-room pianist with gartered sleeves, cigar and derby hat; despite this promotional gimmickry, he played fine ragtime piano. He also wrote a long series of sturdy hit rags. His 36 singles and 14 albums during the 1950s created a congenial setting for the ragtime revival and inspired many young musicians who later developed the second revival in the late 1960s. Under the name Lou Busch he also enjoyed success in Britain with his recording Zambesi (1956). After moving to Warner Bros. Records he was associated, as music director, with the comedian Allan Sherman, and in the late 1970s he toured with a former pupil, Lincoln Mayorga, as a ragtime duo called the Brinkerhoff Piano Company.

Bibliography

  • T. Waldo: This is Ragtime (New York, 1976)
  • D.A. Jasen and T.J. Tichenor: Rags and Ragtime: a Musical History (New York, 1978)