Talking about his early days ” Bolden played my style of music that I liked, I liked to read but I rather played that head music better, more jazz to it. I liked to read and I could read good.”

Born in New Orleans on December 27 ( poss 1879 ) as one of 14 children , son of William Johnson and Thresa Jefferson.
1894: Finished school (New Orleans University).
Played with Adam Olivier’s Orchestra. First job as professional musician.
1895-1896: With Buddy Bolden’s Band.
With The Bob Russell Band.
1899: With various orchestras and brass bands in New Orleans.
1900: At Frankie Spano’s Club with Jelly Roll Morton and Jim Parker,also at Tom Anderson’s with Mamie Desdoumes.
1901: On tour with the P. G. Loral Circus.
1903: In New York with McCabe’s Minstrels.
1905: Played In Beaumont and traveled to Los Angeles, California.
1910: In New Orleans with Billy Marrero’s Superior Orchestra.
1911: Left Superior Orchestra to join Frankie Dusen’s Eagle Band.
1913: Left Dusen to work in the cabarets in the Red Light District. At Lala’s on the corner of Liberty and Custom House with John Robichaux.
Excursions with Jack Carey. A dance in New Iberia.
1914: Left New Orleans permanently. Taught in Mandeville for a year, managing the Fritz Family Orchestra ; joined the orchestra at the Colonial Hotel in Bogalusa, Louisiana.
1916: With the Royal Orchestra in Lake Charles.
1917: With Walter Brundy in Baton Rouge.
1918: With the George Smart Set, A vaudeville-minstrel Show.
1919: With the Vernon Brothers Circus.
1920’s: With Evan Thomas’ Black Eagle Band in Crowley, and with Gus Fortinet’s Banner Band in New Iberia.
Usually he and Evan Thomas worked together for Gus Fortinet.
1931: At the Yellow Front Cafe in Kansas City with Sammy Price, Julia Lee and Baby Lovett.
1932: While the Black Eagle Band played a dance in Rayne, Louisiana are Evan Thomas murdered on the bandstand.
1933: One Night with Paul Barnes’ Band in Lake Charles.
1933 – 1937: With the W.P.A. Music Program in New Iberia as school teacher.
1937: Discovered by Frederic Ramsey Jr. Included in Jazzmen book.
1937 – 1942: Worked in rice and sugar cane fields and the Louisiana Hot Sauce plant.
1942: First recording session on June 11, in New Orleans.
Second recording session on October 2, New Orleans.
1943: In San Francisco at the Museum of Art with Rudi Blesh and members of the Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jass Band.
Recorded in San Francisco with Berha Gonsoulin on April 11.
1944: Recorded with the Yerba Buena Band in January and February.
Recorded V-Disc Veterans session in Los Angeles on July 11.
In New Orleans for recording with Lewis Robinson band in July and August.
1945: At New Orleans Municipal Auditorium with Armstrong, Bechet and J.C. Higginbotham.
Concert held on February 9.
In Boston with Sidney Bechet. Recorded with Bechet in New York on March 10, for Blue Note Records.
Recorded in New Orleans on May 14 with Lewis — Robinson Band.
From September 28,1945, to January 12, 1946, at the Stuyvesant Casino in New York with the Lewis — Robinson band.
More recording sessions in New Yorkon November 21 and December 19.
1946: With Ernestine Washington in New York for recording session on January 2. Last recording session with Lewis — Robinson band in New York on January 6.
Trio recording date in April with Don Ewell and Alphonse Steel.
From April 10 to May 31, in New York with band that included Don Ewell and Kaiser Marshall.
1947: Recorded in Minneapolis with Doc Evans in May.
Dance dates in New York in November with a group of New York musicians. Last recording session in New York on December 23, 24, and 26.
1948: Back in New Iberia with the Banner Band. Suffered first stroke.
1949: Died in New Iberia on July 7.

On his gravestone it says he was born in 1879. The only record of Bunk’s birth was from him, although historians say he was most probaly born in 1898. William Geary ( Bunk ) Johnson, had a really bad habit of stretching the truth or talking pure bunk, hence the nickname.


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