Johnny St. Cyr (1890-1966) composed, played, and revolutionized Jazz banjo and guitar music.
After growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, Johnny went on to play for various prominent local bands before moving to Chicago in 1923. From there, St. Cyr joined many esteemed Jazz acts: Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven, Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, and King Oliver.
Johnny was the bandleader for the Young Men from New Orleans until his death, but he’s often admired for his original song “Oriental Strut” that he performed with the Hot Five. The snappy tune features St. Cyr strumming what could be a fretted instrument of his own custom creation. He always played a 6-string banjo, and often played a banjo that he’d attached the neck of a guitar to. Such ingenuity paved the way for the future of Jazz music on the guitar and banjo, and cemented Johnny St. Cyr in musical history.