Joe “King” Oliver (1885-1938) lived here in 1916 when he was the co-leader of a popular dance band with Kid Ory, who lived a few blocks away on Jackson Avenue. Central City was home to other important ragtime, blues, and jazz musicians, too, including Buddy Bolden and Johnny and Baby Dodds. It was also the location of jazz performance sites such as Betsy Cole’s house on Willow Street, which frequently hosted lawn parties.
Oliver was considered the top cornetist in New Orleans during the mid-1910s, known for his rough, bluesy style. He would use a variety of props such as hats, buckets, and mutes to manipulate his cornet sound. In the late 1910s he became a mentor to Louis Armstrong, and in 1921 invited Armstrong to join his Creole Jazz Band in Chicago, helping to launch the young musician’s career outside of New Orleans.