MTV Artists

Millions of artists.
Your pocket.
One app.
Download now

Download on the App Store Stay in
My Browser


While his name makes him sound more like someone who would lead a German Oktoberfest "oompah" band, Johnny Bayersdorffer was a New Orleans jazz brass player who worked in a variety of popular local bands during the '20s and then bounced around between several other large American cities, most notably Chicago. Bayersdorffer formed his own bands beginning in high school, possibly afraid that he would be unable to find a bandleader willing to try and announce his name on-stage. Jazzola Ltd. Band and Johnny Bayersdorffer & His Jazzola Novelty Orchestra were some of snappy names for his combos in the early '20s, sidemen including Nappy Lamare and Tom Brown. Bayersdorfer and trombonist/bassist Brown co-wrote the tune "I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Ridin' Now?" one of a handful of recordings made by Bayersdorfer's groups but not to be confused with the more popular, if equally lost, "I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone." Around the same time, the trumpeter was gigging in a band led by reed player Tony Parenti. In the fall of 1924, Bayersdorffer ditched his civil service day job and took his music full-time, relocating to Chicago and doing stints in Indianapolis and Los Angeles prior to returning to New Orleans.

In the late '20s he began to focus more on his Chicago base, although Bayersdorffer was also a name heard on the New York scene. He continued working with players such as violinist Billy Lustig and pianist Lee Shore, and was seriously injured with the latter man in a 1940 car crash while on tour. Bayersdorffer was back in action professionally by early in the following decade, including a residency at the Club Flamingo and a triumphant New Orleans homecoming. Staying put in New Orleans, he retired in the '60s following a decade in which his time had been almost equally balanced between gigs and a government job. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi