Auntie Doris’s They Died Too Young #17: Bix Biederbecke: Died August 6th 1931 aged 28

BixImagine being a bloke and having a book brought out about you called “Young Man with a Horn” And then having a film made out of it with Kirk Douglas in the title role, and Lauren Bacall and Doris day as your love interest. Ruddy impressive eh? Of course, the bloke in question, Bix Biederbecke was long dead when all that happened. But it still gave him a great deal of satisfaction from the other side. Anyway, the Horn in question was Bix’s cornet. He played it so well that even Louis Armstrong liked it, and that’s saying something. Bing Crosby liked it too. In fact Bix and Bing were in the same boy band together in the 1920s. Well, they were both in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, and they were both good looking young blokes. The trouble with Bix was that he liked the booze a bit too much, so by the beginning of the 1930s, Bing’s solo career was on the up and up, and poor old Bix had been thrown out of the Orchestra and was struggling to keep it together. He ended up that drunk that he had a ruddy heart attack and dropped dead whilst he was looking for imaginary Mexicans under his bed. My Raymond’s friend Albert bought himself a trumpet once. He fancied himself as a lover of fine things and a bit of a musician. The thing was, he couldn’t play a ruddy note on anything no matter how much he tied. Now I come to think of it, my nephew Michael reminds me of him. Neither of them had anything in common with Bix Biederbecke other than being a bit too fond of the sauce for their own good. Albert came around to our house on the day that he bought that trumpet. He reckoned he would be able to play us a tune on it. Well. He huffed and he puffed. He blew out his cheeks until he looked like one of those ruddy big cheeked fishes. His eyeballs started popping out. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. His knuckles went white. He went red in the face. He went purple in the face. And then a noise came out. Jazz enthusiasts said that the noise that Bix Biederbecke could get out of his instrument was heavenly, like a girl saying yes, like the song of an angel. The noise that Albert got out of his instrument was not like that. It was like the sound a balloon makes if you stretch the end as you let the air out. It was the sound of a constipated pig farting. It was horrible. And then to cap it all, just as he gave in, a little dribble of slaver trickled out of the end of his horn. The whole performance reminded me of some of my Raymond’s less successful attempts to have carnal intimacy. I doubt Kirk Douglas would have been interested in playing the role of him, if he’d been offered the part. Here on the other side, Bix is re united with Bing and his old pals and often has a musical evening. Sometimes they have guest spots in the band for other dead musicians such as Jimmy Hendricks or Sid Viscous. I’ve been to see a couple of shows. They are much more entertaining than Albert, or my ruddy nephew and his mates, That’s for certain.

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