Jelly Roll Morton used to introduce himself as the inventor of jazz. He began playing piano at the age of 10 and honed his skills in the brothels of New Orleans as a teenager.
He toured the country as a musician, comic, vaudeville act and at some point, even worked as a pimp.
He started to record records in the 20s, but his career took a downward turn in the Great Depression. He continued to play burlesque shows and even worked as the manager of a D.C. nightclub.
In 1941 he’d begun mounting a comeback but died before he could see his career prosper again.