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Sidney Joseph Bechet

Also Known As: ""Pops", "" le dieu", "The Wizard of Jazz"
Birthplace: New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
Death: May 14, 1959 (62)
Garches, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France (lung cancer)
Place of Burial: Garches, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Omar Bechet and Josephine Bechet
Husband of Elizabeth Ziegler
Ex-husband of Norma Hale and Marie Louise Crawford
Partner of Jaqueline Peraldi
Father of Daniel Bechet
Brother of Leonard Victar Bechet, Sr.; Homer L. Bechet; Albert Eugene Bechet; Joseph Bechet; Bertha Taylor and 1 other

Occupation: jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, composer
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Sidney Bechet

Sidney Joseph Bechet (May 14, 1897 - May 14, 1959) was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer.


  • Parents: Omar Bechet & Josephine Michel
  • Married: 1) Norma Hale 2) Marie Louise Crawford 3) Elizabeth Ziegler
  • Liasons included: Bessie Smith, Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead
  • Children: Daniel Bechet (b 1959 - ) [with Jaqueline Peraldi]

brief biography

Musician. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, a musical child prodigy; his touring and traveling took him as far north as Chicago, east to New York, where he joined the Syncopated Orchestra, journeyed to Europe to perform at the Royal Philharmonic Hall in 1919. During the 1920s and 1930s, with Louis Armstrong and Tommy Ladnier, he recorded and composed songs to include "New Orleans Feetwarmers", Weary Blues", "Really the Blues" and "Petite Fleur". Basing from Paris, France, in the late 1940s, he recorded and performed with jazz pianoist Max Miller on NBC Radio and continued working on compostions for RCA Records until his death from lung cancer on his 68th birthday. He was posthumously inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1968. (bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith)


From "Sidney Bechet" by Peter Stone

Bechet’s temper was legend: in September of 1922 he was deported from England, after being arrested for a brawl with some women in a London hotel room. It was not the first (or last) time he was in difficulties because of a battle with or about a woman. In December 1928 in Paris, he had a confrontation over a woman with banjoist Gilbert “Little Mike” McKendrick at Bricktop’s (Ada Smith’s) café. When Bechet later shot at McKendrick, missing and wounding some bystanders, he was arrested and deported from France.

Legacy and honors

From The Sidney Bechet Society

Who was the New Orleans jazz pioneer who did most to make this music a unique art form? When this question is asked, the name of Louis Armstrong invariably comes to mind, and rightly so. But there is another jazz musician whose name deserves to be coupled with Armstrong as the greatest of the New Orleans Jazz players. His name is Sidney Bechet.

From Wikipedia

  • In such great regard was he generally held that, on his death in Garches, a small town north of Paris where he maintained a home for his mistress and their son, more than three thousand mourners attended his funeral.
  • In 1919, Ernest Ansermet, a Swiss classical conductor, wrote a tribute to Bechet, one of the earliest (if not the first) to a jazz musician from the classical field of music, linking Bechet's music with that of Bach.
  • In 1968, Bechet was inducted into Down Beat magazine's Jazz Hall of Fame.
  • The New York Times music writer Robert Palmer wrote of Bechet: "by combining the 'cry' of the blues players and the finesse of the Creoles into his 'own way,' Sidney Bechet created a style which moved the emotions even as it dazzled the mind."
  • "Bechet to me was the very epitome of jazz ... everything he played in his whole life was completely original. I honestly think he was the most unique man to ever be in this music." Duke Ellington.
  • The British poet Philip Larkin wrote an ode to Bechet in The Whitsun Weddings.
  • Sidney Bechet: The Wizard of Jazz. By John Chilton.  Page 1.  "Creole Ancestry."
  • King Bechet Trio This Clarence Williams produced session is Sidney Bechet's first record. It was released under the name of Rosetta Crawford accompanied by King Bechet Trio. Bechet plays some very soulful clarinet and saxophone on these sides.
  • Sidney Bechet Married in Cleveland In his autobiography, written shortly before his death, Bechet referred only briefly to one of his marriages, but described in some detail several affairs, including one with blues singer Bessie Smith (1923)
  • Jazz Makers: Vanguards of Sound By Alyn Shipton.  Page 31.  In 1925 he returned to Europe with singer and dancer Josephine Baker in a show called La Revue Negre.  They enjoyed a brief romance.
  • "Treat It Gentle" By Ronnie Virgets.  Posted 2002. "He was not much for male friendships, but could be very generous to younger musicians -- although one observer noted it was always with "amateurs" or inferiors. He was much more interested in the company of women and likely included such luminaries as Bessie Smith and Josephine Baker among his playmates. He had a long-running affair with actress Tallulah Bankhead, and a protege of his recalled a time when Bechet took him to her hotel. She answered the door naked and the two musicians serenaded her in her bed for an hour and then left."
  • "Two Negroes named in Tallulah Bankhead Trial" Jet Magazine, Dec 21, 1951.
  • Sidney Bechet: The Wizard of Jazz By John Chilton.  Search on "Tallulah Bankhead."
  • Paris and Jazz: A Collaboration Propelling Sidney Bechet to Fame Posted on October 30, 2010 by Maggie
  • Sidney Bechet: The Wizard of Jazz By John Chilton. Page 56.
  • Jack Sohmer. "Bechet, Sidney";; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Sun May 17 2015 02:05:48 GMT-0700 (MST)
  • Dictionary of Louisiana Biography - B
  • / Slideshare presentation by Sarah Warren
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Oxford University Press. (as posted at
  • Disco-jazz (this looks like an official site)
  • * "Mary Karoley" in Sidney Bechet: The Wizard of Jazz. By John Chilton. Mary E. Karoley wrote a long, detailed biography of Sidney Bechet for the issue of Jazz Information dated 6 December 1940.
  • "John Reid" in Sidney Bechet: The Wizard of Jazz By John Chilton. RCA Victar executive John Reid was a close friend.
  • Images at the Louisiana Digital Library
  • Radio that plays Sidney Bechet


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Sidney Bechet's Timeline

May 14, 1897
New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
September 26, 1897
New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
April 3, 1954
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
May 14, 1959
Age 62
Garches, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France