July 21, 1962: Musician Maceo Pinkard Dies

Maceo Pinkard

Musician Maceo Pinkard died on July 21, 1962, at age 65. The Bluefield native attended Bluefield Colored Institute—now Bluefield State College—before becoming one of the most successful songwriters of the 1920s Jazz Era.

After graduating, he toured with his own band and ended up in Omaha, where he published his first song, “I’m Goin’ Back Home.” He also founded a theatrical agency. After moving to New York, he had his first hit with “Mammy o’ Mine.” Then, in 1922, he wrote the music for Liza, a pioneering Broadway show with an all-black cast that introduced a new dance, known as the Charleston.

Pinkard wrote popular tunes like “Here Comes the Show Boat” for the musical Show Boat and great jazz songs like “Them There Eyes,” “I’ll Be a Friend,” and “Sugar,” which were recorded by Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Billie Holiday, among others. He also helped set up Duke Ellington’s first recording session in 1923.

Pinkard is best remembered for writing “Sweet Georgia Brown,” which became the Harlem Globetrotters’ theme song.

Maceo Pinkard was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2008.