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)
Format10-inch 78 rpm record
RecordedAugust 10, 1920
Songwriter(s)Perry Bradford
Audio sample
"Crazy Blues"

"Crazy Blues" is a song written by Perry Bradford. Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds recorded it on August 10, 1920, which was released that year by Okeh Records.[1] 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.[2]

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 blues record ever issued.[3] Another claim is that it was the first recording with a blues title by a black artist.[4] 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.[5] "Crazy Blues" was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1994.

The 1920 Mamie Smith version of the song was used in episode 10 of season 1 of Boardwalk Empire.[6]


  1. ^ Okeh Records catalogue 4169
  2. ^ Gioia, Ted (2008). Delta Blues. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-393-33750-1.
  3. ^ "The First Blues Records (1914–1916)". Red Hot Jazz Archive. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  4. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 12. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  5. ^ Smith, Roger Kimmel. "In 1920 Mamie Smith's Crazy Blues paved the way for Black Music". Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  6. ^ "Boardwalk Empire: S 1 EP 10: Music". HBO. 2011-11-12. Archived from the original on 2017-07-30. Retrieved 2015-08-29.