Crazy Blues

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"Crazy Blues"
Single by Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds
B-side"It's Right Here For You (If You Don't Get It-'Taint No Fault O' Mine)"
Released1920 (1920)
RecordedAugust 10, 1920
Songwriter(s)Perry Bradford
Audio sample
"Crazy Blues"

"Crazy Blues" is a song, renamed from the originally titled "Harlem Blues" song of 1918, written by Perry Bradford.[1] Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds recorded it on August 10, 1920,[2] which was released that year by Okeh Records (4169-A).[1][3] The stride pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith appeared in photographs associated with the recording session, although Bradford claimed to have played piano on the recording (albeit buried in the mix). Within a month of release, it had sold 75,000 copies.[4]

Although there were many recordings made of songs with blues in the title during the previous decade, this recording is considered a landmark as the first significant hit recording in the blues genre ever issued.[5] Another claim is that it was the first recording with a blues title by a black artist.[6] The record made Smith the first African American female popular singer to lead a commercial recording. The success of "Crazy Blues" opened up the race record market, for the first time major record companies started producing records with an African American buyer in mind.[7]

"Crazy Blues" was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1994, and later entered into the National Recording Registry of the United States Library of Congress by the National Recording Preservation Board in 2005.[1]

The 1920 Mamie Smith version of the song was used in episode 10 of season 1 of Boardwalk Empire in 2010.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Komara, Ed (2005). ""Crazy Blues"—Mamie Smith (1920) - Added to the National Registry: 2005" (PDF). Library of Congress. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  2. ^ Hajdu, David (August 8, 2020). "A Song That Changed Music Forever - 100 years ago, Mamie Smith recorded a seminal blues hit that gave voice to outrage at violence against Black Americans". The New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  3. ^ Okeh Records catalogue 4169
  4. ^ Gioia, Ted (2008). Delta Blues. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-393-33750-1.
  5. ^ Smith, Roger. "In 1920 Mamie Smith's Crazy Blues paved the way for Black Music". Red Hot Jazz Archive. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  6. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 12. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  7. ^ Smith, Roger Kimmel. "In 1920 Mamie Smith's Crazy Blues paved the way for Black Music". Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  8. ^ "Boardwalk Empire: S 1 EP 10: Music". HBO. November 12, 2011. Archived from the original on July 30, 2017. Retrieved August 29, 2015.

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