John William Boone

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John William 'Blind' Boone
Blind Boone.jpg
Background information
Birth name John William Boone
Also known as Blind Boone, Little Willie[1]
Born (1864 -04-17)April 17, 1864
Origin Miami, Missouri, U.S.
Died October 4, 1927(1927-10-04)
Genres Ragtime
Occupation(s) Composer
musician, and pianist
Instruments Piano

John William "Blind" Boone (May 17, 1864 – October 4, 1927) was an American pianist and composer of ragtime music.

Early life[edit]

Boone was born in a Federal militia camp near Miami, Missouri, May 17, 1864, to a contraband slave, Rachel Carpenter, who had been owned by descendants of Daniel Boone. His father was a bugler in the 7th Missouri State Militia Cavalry (Union). Doctors removed both of Boone's eyes when he was six months old in an attempt to cure his brain fever. He grew up in Warrensburg, Missouri, where Camp Grover was the headquarters of the 7th MSM at the end of the Civil War.

Boone had musical talent that was recognizable at a remarkably young age. Because of this, his hometown of Warrensburg decided to make sure that Boone received an education and paid for him to attend the St. Louis School for the Blind in 1872 to study piano. After growing bored with his experience there, Boone’s rule breaking habits got him expelled. He returned to Warrensburg where he began playing with local musicians. In 1880, Boone had the honor of playing in a concert given by famous pianist, Blind Tom. The fame he received from this performance ignited his professional career.[2] Boone died of acute deflation of the heart on October 4, 1927 in Warrensburg. He was buried at the Columbia Cemetery (Columbia, Missouri).[3]

Professional career[edit]

Boone played thousands of concerts in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.


Blind Boone sculpture in Warrensburg, Mo created by Ai Qiu Hopen

The home of Blind Boone still exists in Columbia, Missouri. In 2000, the City of Columbia purchased the home and it is currently undergoing restoration.[4] The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[5]

The John William Boone Heritage Foundation was founded to preserve the history of Blind Boone and to elaborate the important role Missouri played in the development of Ragtime and early Jazz music.


  • Blind Boone, His Early Life and Achievements, Fuell, Melissa, Burton Publishing Company, Kansas City, Missouri 1915
  • Blind Boone: Missouri's Ragtime Pioneer, Batterson, Jack A. ISBN 0-8262-1198-4
  • Blind Boone: Piano Prodigy, Harrah, Madge ISBN 1-57505-057-9

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Prioleau, Phoebe (January–February 2005). ""Blind" Boone, Missouri Honors Its Ragtime Pioneer". Humanities, Volume 26/Number 1. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  2. ^ Sears, Ann (1989). "John William "Blind" Boone, Pianist-Composer: "Merit, Not Sympathy Wins"". Black Music Research Journal: 225–247. 
  3. ^ Patterson, R (4 October 1927). "Official Death Certificate, Warrensburg, Johnson County, Missouri". 
  4. ^ Salerno, Lucille. "A Brief History of John William "Blind" Boone". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.