Freddie Keppard is remembered for his exemplary musical talents and is widely considered as one of the best jazz musicians of the early 20th century. He was born in New Orleans on February 27th, 1890 and most of his family members were ardent music enthusiasts. Keppard began by learning the mandolin and then moved on to the accordion and the violin. He finally settled on the cornet as his musical instrument of choice. By the age of 16 he was part of the Olympia Orchestra and performed in various venues around New Orleans.
Keppard later joined the migrating Creole jazz group that traveled the West Coast during the earlier part of the 20th century. After touring the Los Angeles area in 1912 he became a founding member of the Original Creole Orchestra. This musical outfit popularized the New Orleans style of jazz to a greater audience across the United States. As the group’s popularity rose, an offer from the Victor Talking Machine Company beckoned. Keppard was offered an opportunity to record his music. At first he was sceptical and thought that his recordings would subject his music to music piracy.
During his career Keppard got to tour with various exemplary performers during his career including the likes of Doc Cooke, Mae Brady, Ollie power and Erskine Tate. His music began to transcend borders and soon he had established and strong fan base in Europe despite not having performed there.
Despite touring and building his reputation as a solid performer, Keppard still remained in the shadows of jazz greats like Louis Armstrong who knew the music industry better and recognized the importance of new technology in the music industry.
By the middle part of the 1920’s Keppard battled alcoholism and slowly became unreliable as a band member. By 1928 he had stopped playing music and unfortunately succumbed to the effects of tuberculosis on July 15, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 43.