Emmett/Emmet Hardy

by Nick Dellow

There is an interesting five page article on Emmett Hardy, entitled "The Enigma That Was Emmet Hardy", by David Butters in the latest "Frog Blues & Jazz Annual" (Vol 5)( www.frog-records.co.uk ). Amongst the many details provided about Hardy's short life is the fact that he was named Emmet by his parents and added the second t himself (for reasons given in the article, which I won't go into here). Several photographs were new to me.

Needless to say, Bix is mentioned several times. Somewhat controversially, Butters states "...it is admitted by all that of the two men, Hardy, six months Beiderbecke's junior, was by far the more advanced player at the time." The time was 1921, incidentally, and Monk Hazel, Paul Mares and Leon Roppolo (via Benny Goodman) are amongst those stated to have said that Hardy was the greater musician. Jimmy Dorsey is quoted as saying that "Bix often commented on Hardy and how terrific a musician he was". However, statements made by both Nick LaRocca and Steve Brown when asked about Emmett Hardy would suggest that Hardy was unlikely to have been a great influence on Bix. George Brunis' comment about Hardy, given in an interview, that "Bix liked him" is probably as close to the truth as we're likely to get! The comments by LaRocca, Brown and Brunis can be found in posts on this Forum (they are not given in the article).

A letter allegedly sent by Bix to Hardy's mother upon Emmett's death is mentioned in the article. The four-page letter, now presumed lost (if it ever existed), is stated to have ended with the sentences "Emmett was the greatest musician I ever heard. If ever I can come near to your son's greatness I'll die happy". Evidence for the existence of this letter (and also one from Louis Armstrong), and whom it was who passed on the details of its contents, is not provided. The author states that there is no reason to doubt its existence, but with such tenuous connections and no hard historical evidence - in fact, no evidence at all except hearsay - the alleged contents should be treated with caution in my estimation.

"The Enigma That Was Emmet Hardy" certainly seems an apposite title for the article.


Posted on Jul 14, 2017, 9:26 AM

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