Toilet cell phone

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WC Handy 1941, photographed by Carl van Vechten

William Christopher "WC" Handy (born November 16, 1873 in Florence , Alabama , † March 28, 1958 in New York City ) was an American blues composer, trumpeter and band leader . He is known as the "father of the blues".


Toilet Handy and the Teachers' Band at Agricultural and Mechanical College, Normal, Alabama, 1900 Cell phone with beard in foreground
USA postage stamp

As the son of released slaves , WC Handy found its musical roots in church music . He learned various trades and soon bought his first guitar . His parents did not agree - for them guitar music was a sign of sin - and signed him up for organ lessons , which was more in line with their Christian beliefs. However, the young William Christopher got his way and instead of the organ he learned to play the trumpet . His musical interests were diverse. He sang in a minstrel show and worked as a band leader, choir director , cornet player and trumpeter. At the age of 23 he led the band Mahara's Colored Minstrels. In 1893 he played at the World's Fair in Chicago , in 1902 he trundled through Mississippi , where he came into contact with the original music of simple blacks.

On July 19, 1896, he married Elizabeth Price. Shortly thereafter, he began working with Mahara's Minstrels, with whom he toured America and Cuba for three years for six dollars a week . The young couple then settled in Huntsville , Alabama , near Florence , where the first of six children were born on June 29, 1900. The second child was the singer Katherine Handy (1902–1982).

Handy taught music at a college for blacks from 1900 to 1902 before touring again with Mahara's Minstrels. From 1903 he led a black band, The Knights of Pythias in Clarksdale for six years . In 1909 the band moved to Memphis and set up on Beale Street . During this time Handy developed from his observations of black music and the reaction of whites to it the style that later became popular as blues . He later named Beale Street Blues after the street , which is considered a milestone in the development of the blues. In 1909 the Memphis Blues was first created , which was published in 1912 and is considered the first blues piece ever published. The piece made Handy known to a wider audience. It is also said to have inspired the New York dance couple Vernon and Irene Castle to develop the foxtrot . Handy sold the rights to the Memphis Blues for $ 100.

In 1917 he moved to New York City, where he hoped to find better working conditions. At the same time, jazz music was becoming popular, and many of the cellphone compositions became jazz standards. Handy opened its own record label, Handy Record Company, in New York in the 1920s. On 14 January 1925 made Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong with cell phones St. Louis Blues one of the famous Blue recordings of the 20's. In 1926 Handy brought out a blues anthology , Blues: An Anthology: Complete Words and Music of 53 Great Songs , probably the first attempt to comprehensively document the blues and understand it as part of American culture. In June 1929 a film was made in which Bessie Smith sang the St. Louis Blues and was shown as a supporting film in cinemas throughout the United States until 1932. In 1941 Handy published his autobiography Father of the Blues: An Autobiography . In 1944, Unsung Americans Sing was released, about black American musicians. Handy wrote a total of five books.

Cell Phones Tombstone

In 1943 he became blind in an accident. After the death of his first wife in 1954, at the age of 80, he married his secretary Irma Louise Logan, who, as he often pointed out, had become his eyes. In 1955 Handy suffered a stroke and from then on had to use a wheelchair. Over 800 guests came to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for his 84th birthday . WC Handy died on March 28, 1958 at Sydenham Hospital in Harlem of complications from pneumonia . More than 25,000 people attended his Harlem funeral service; over 150,000 people gathered in the surrounding streets. Handy was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York .

Compositions by WC Handy (selection)

Books from toilet cellphone

  • Blues: An Anthology: Complete Words and Music of 53 Great Songs (1926)
  • Book of Negro Spirituals
  • Father of the Blues: An Autobiography, New York, Macmillan 1941, Collier 1970
  • Unsung Americans Sung (1944)
  • Negro Authors and Composers of the United States


  • In 1958, a film about the life of Toilet Handy, St. Louis Blues was released .
  • WC Handy's birthday, November 16, is celebrated each year at the WC Handy Museum in Florence, Alabama with music, cake, and free entry.
  • WC Handy was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983.
  • The WC Handy Music Festival is held annually in Florence, Alabama.
  • The Handy Award is one of the most prestigious awards for blues musicians.
  • The year 2003 was declared the Year of the Blues by the US Senate , in memory of the first blues written by WC Handy 100 years earlier.
  • In 1993, WC Handy was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame .
  • On May 17, 1969, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in honor of WC Handy.
  • Handy Park toilet was set up on Beale Street in Memphis and features a life-size bronze statue of Handy.
  • In Marc Cohn's title Walking in Memphis (1991), WC Handy and Beale Street are mentioned musically as part of the city tour described.


  • David Robertson: Toilet Cellphone. The Life And Times Of The Man Who Made The Blues. Alfred A. Knopf, New York NY 2009, ISBN 978-0-307-26609-5 .

Web links

Commons : Toilet Handy  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence