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Lem Fowler

Lemuel Fowler, b. 1900, d. 1963. Active 1920s.

Classic Jazz Lem Fowler is a mystery figure in jazz history. Although he lived over 60 years, he largely disappeared after 1932 and his birth and death dates and locations have not been positively identified. What is known is that during 1922-32 he recorded 57 songs and 23 player piano rolls in New York and Chicago. Fowler's first piano roll (from 1922) was his composition "He May Be Your Man But He Comes To See Me Sometimes," a big hit that is still a standard for blues and jazz singers today. Fowler briefly became in great demand and started recording by May 1923 on a fairly regular basis, accompanying Helen Baxter and other singers on a variety of dates. He also recorded two unaccompanied piano solos ("Satisfied Blues" and "Blues Mixture") in 1923 and led sessions during 1925-27 (12 songs in all) that featured his Washboard Wonders (trumpeter Sidney DeParis is on the two 1926 titles) and Fowler's Favorites. After 1932, Fowler dropped out of the music business and, although spotted in 1962, he lived the rest of his life in self-imposed obscurity. An RST CD (1923-1927) has all of the numbers that he recorded as a leader along with his performances accompanying singers Helen Baxter and George Williams.
by Scott Yanow