Brun Campbell: The Original Ragtime Kid
At fifteen, Sanford Brunson Campbell (1884–1952) became enchanted with the new sounds of ragtime and ran away from his rural Kansas home, hopping a train to Sedalia, Missouri, determined to take piano lessons from a black musician he had never met. Scott Joplin nicknamed his white protégé “The Ragtime Kid.” A composer and entertainer at the dawn of the ragtime era, “Brun” was a prime mover in the ragtime revival of the 1940s and helped establish Joplin’s prominence as one of America’s most innovative composers. Campbell’s own legacy was tarnished by his inability to tell a straight story and he was often dismissed as a liar and a clown.
Based on his memoirs, musical compositions and correspondence with music industry notables, this first comprehensive biography of Campbell reveals an engaging storyteller and a devotee wholly dedicated to a musical genre that had been largely forgotten. His firsthand account of life as an itinerant pianist in the Midwest provides a unique picture of life a century ago.