Eubie Blake’s Birthday

Eubie Blake StampEubie Blake made himself even more famous well into his 90s when he said, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” He died on February 12, 1983 at the age of 100 years and five days. More famous? Yes, he had been widely known for decades as a pianist, bandleader and composer. Blake’s “Memories of You,” “I’m Just Wild About Harry” and “Charleston Rag” were among a string his of hits that began with an early one for Sophie Tucker, “It’s All Your Fault.”

When ragtime made a comeback in the 1950s, so did Eubie, and the comeback lasted until he died. Here he is in Berlin in 1972 when he was a mere 89 year old, charming an audience with a medley of his best-known songs.

Taking the birthday tribute a step further, let’s hear one of best of the dozens of versions of Blake’s “Memories of You,” by Clifford Brown with strings.

Thank you for Eubie Blake.

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Comments

  1. Abe Carnow says

    We should all have such energy at 89! God bless this birthday celebration of Eubie Blake. The man spread such joy!

  2. says

    Eubie was a delightful man, and a great storyteller. I interviewed him once, and remarked that for such a small man (perhaps 5’01″) he had very large, spidery hands: he could no doubt span at least an octave-and-a-half on the piano.

    He said “Yes, even when I was a very young boy, my hands were big. My mother used to say ‘Hubert! Put your hands in your pockets…everyone’s going to think you’re a pick-pocket!’”

  3. dick vartanian says

    Ten years before his death music died. I am very much certain that we will never again see the likes of Eubie or song writers like him.

  4. Ken Dryden says

    I forget what turned me onto Eubie Blake, but it was likely seeing him on TV in the early 1970s, where he was always popping up as a guest. His gracious attitude and ability to poke fun at himself, in addition to his still strong chops, made him popular with every audience. The closest I ever came to seeing him was when I learned that he was playing at the Palm Beach Jazz Festival in the late 1970s. I had tickets to see Vladimir Horowitz in Miami Beach the same day and there was no way for me to attend both performance. My mother tried to console me by saying, “He’s getting up in years, he’ll probably won’t play for long.” The very next day he received a writeup in the newspaper, describing him as playing his regular set, followed by eight encores.

  5. Ken Dryden says

    Unfortunately, most of Eubie Blake’s LPs are out of print. There has been a handful of CD reissues and also some new music available for purchase via download at Wolfgangsvault.com.

  6. Jeff Sultanof says

    He was indeed an amazing man.

    He never stopped learning. Late in life, he decided to learn the Schillinger System of Composition and was very proud that he’d gone through the whole course, quite an accomplishment.