Famous ragtime pianist Johnny Maddox visited Columbia this week as the guest of honor at the Blind Boone Ragtime Festival. In the height of his career in the 1950s, Maddox performed with names like Patsy Cline and released the first all-piano record to sell over 1 million copies. With millions of albums sold and more than 60 years working in the music industry, many ragtime fans would call Maddox a legend.
The Blind Boone Ragtime Festival returns to Columbia this Sunday, honoring a local and national legend. The festival features concerts and seminars from world-class ragtime performers both Monday and Tuesday. It is named for John William “Blind” Boone, a ragtime musician who lived in Columbia around the turn of the twentieth century and helped pioneer the genre.
So, you know your Missouri and CoMo history, and you think you know all about “ragtime” musician Blind Boone, yeah? Think again. If you think he was all ragtime, and he was blind, you still might have a lot to learn.
It turns out John William “Blind” Boone was one of the first musical composers to blend European classical styles with folk music. He took African-American and Afro-Caribbean folk styles such as plantation melodies and minstrel tunes, and put them in classical forms, then performed the pieces in concert halls.