Biographies Luckey Roberts, 1887-1968

Image: Cover of Rock a bye baby blues
Rock a bye baby blues by C. Luckeyth Roberts ( New York: Publisher Manhattan Music Pub. House, 1920). Performing Arts Reading Room, Library of Congress.

Charles "Luckeyth" Roberts (1893-1968) was an accomplished pianist and composer. Along with James P. Johnson, he is considered one of the founders of the Harlem stride piano "school." Roberts has been called "one of the hardest pounding colored players of any weight." One of his early compositions, "Ripples of the Nile" (1912), was restyled "Moonlight Cocktail" and became the theme of the Glen Miller Band. Another early piece, "Pork and Beans," was one of the first ragtime compositions to place more emphasis on rhythm than on the tune. Roberts' other famous pieces include "Whistlin' Pete" and "Miniature Syncopated Rhapsody."

Roberts recorded two unissued solo piano sides for Columbia in 1916. These were his compositions "Shoo Fly" and "Shy and Sly." Although he accompanied other artists in late-1920s recordings, he did not record again under his name until 1946. Roberts performed as a vaudvevillian singer, dancer, and pianist in the United States and Europe. He also organized and conducted his own ensembles, ran a music studio and played background piano for radio.

Selected Works at the Library of Congress