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Turpin, Tomlocked

(1873–13 August 1922)
  • Richard Carlin

Extract

Turpin, Tom (1873–13 August 1922), ragtime pianist, composer, and bar owner, was born Thomas Milton J. Turpin in Savannah, Georgia, the son of John L. “Jack” Turpin, a bar owner and amateur wrestler, and Lulu Waters. The Turpin family was prominent in Savannah’s African-American community, but by 1880 they had relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, where John Turpin opened the Silver Dollar Saloon. Young Tom began playing piano from an early age and was employed at one of the best known of the city’s bars, the Castle Club, by the early 1890s. By 1893 he had opened his own saloon, which eventually became known as the Rosebud Bar, with Turpin grandly proclaiming himself “President of the Rosebud Club.” The bar became a meeting place for local pianists, including Louis Chauvin....

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