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WWI Draft Registration Card 6th September The ragtime era, stretching from the last years of the 19th century to the end of the second decade of the 20th century, produced many fine pianists who were forced by the social conventions of the time to ply their trade in honkytonks, barrelhouses, vaudeville theatres, movie theatres, music stores, hotels, steamboats, saloons, and, of course, the multitude of sporting houses throughout the United States.
Sanford Brunson Campbell was born on 26th March in Washington, Washington County, Kansas, a small town founded in in the northern central part of the territory, which was admitted to Statehood on 29th January as the 34th State of the Union. His father was Lewis E.
Campbell, a barber and later travelling salesman, born in Wisconsin inand his mother was Lula Emilie Bourquin, born in Indiana of French parents in Both parents were musical. His father strummed the guitar and sang in a barbershop quartet and his mother picked the banjo, so it was natural that Brun took up the piano at an early age and became a competent pianist by the time he reached his teens.
The Campbell family had the proverbial itchy feet, and just about every other year was a moving day for them. Their final recorded moves in the Midwest were to Tulsa and Chickasha, both in Oklahoma around Census of 1st January Brun was even more of a wanderer and, inran away from home with the son of a local doctor to Oklahoma City, an event that was to introduce him to the classic ragtime of African-Americans.
In Oklahoma City, he found his way to the Armstrong-Byrd Music Store, sat down at the piano, and began playing some popular songs of the day.
A crowd gathered and after a time, a young mulatto stepped forward and placed a pen and ink manuscript on the piano bearing the title Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin.
Campbell played the piece at sight with only a few mistakes, and the young mulatto introduced himself as Otis Saunders, a fine pianist, who said he was going to Sedalia, Missouri in a few days to see his friend, Joplin. After his return to Arkansas City, his newly acquired interest in classic ragtime inspired him to leave home again, and seek out Joplin and Saunders in Sedalia, Missouri.
In addition, Joplin taught Campbell to play his first four rags: Brun became the first white pianist to play and master these Joplin rags. The Sedalia trip also encompassed Saint Louis and Kansas City where he met and heard almost all of the early African-American pianists and composers of ragtime.
He had this to say about their playing: They played their own style. Some played march time, fast time, slow time and some played ragtime blues style. But none of them lost the melody and if you knew the player and heard him a block away you could name him by his ragtime style.
The music these great Negro composers developed will live forever, and I am proud of the fact I was associated with them at the beginning. The marriage does not appear to have lasted much more than a few years for he was living with his parents in Los Angeles at the time of the U.
Brun married his second wife, Marjorie, in the s and they settled in Venice, California about They lived at C Crestmore Place, Venice, from until the early s.
Brun operated a barber shop for more than twenty years at Venice Boulevard, next to the Venice City Hall, which became a Mecca for the growing number of ragtime enthusiasts in the s.
Pierce said that Brun had a piano in the back room of his shop, and played for him a number of times and impressed him greatly.
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