An American pianist, singer, and composer.
Jackson was born to a poor African American family in Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana on June 5, 1876.
At about the age of 10 he constructed a type of crude but working and properly tuned harpsichord out of junk in his back yard, since his family lacked the money to buy or rent a piano.
On this contraption young Tony was able to reproduce hymns he heard in church; news of this accomplishment soon spread around the neighborhood and he was offered use of neighbors' pianos and reed organs to practice on.
Jackson got his first musical job at age 13, when he began playing piano during off hours at a Tonk run by bandleader Adam Olivier. By age 15 was already considered by many musicians the best pianist in town.
Jackson became the most popular and sought after entertainer in Storyville. He was said to be able to remember and play any tune he had heard once, and was hardly ever stumped by obscure requests.
His singing voice was also exceptional, and he was said to be able to sing operatic parts from baritone to soprano range. Fellow musicians and singers were universal in their praise of Jackson, most calling him "the greatest", and even the far-from-modest Jelly Roll Morton ranked Jackson as the only musician better than Morton himself.
One of the few tunes published with Jackson's name on it, "Pretty Baby" came out in 1916, although he was remembered performing the song before he left New Orleans.
The original lyrics of "Pretty Baby" were said to refer to his male lover of the time.
He died in Chicago on April 20, 1921.
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