Wolverine Blues

1923© Music by Jelly Roll Morton Lyrics by John & Benjamin F. Spikes

John Spikes                                                                   * 1885 Dallas, Tx 1885
† 1955
Benjamin F. Spikes                                                      * Oct 1889 Dallas, Tx
† 1982
Ferdinand Joseph “Jelly Roll Morton” La Menthe * Sep 20, 1885 Gulfport, La
† Jul 10, 1941 Los Angeles, Ca

The tune was original titled The Wolverines, but according to Morton, the publisher (Melrose Brothers Music Company) renamed it Wolverine blues. The Wolverine was a barbershop, owned by a friend of Morton. They paid Morton $ 3.000,= for it. It was because of the popularity of blues music, that often a title was given the addition blues. Johnny St.Cyr remembered hearing this tune as early as 1906.

According to the U.S. census records, John C. Spikes was born in Texas in 1885.  His brother Benjamin F. Spikes, also born in Texas, was born in October 1889.  They were the sons of Monroe and Medora Spikes.  Monroe Spikes was born in 1850 in Texas and his occupation is listed as “barber.”  His wife Medora was born in Louisiana in 1851.  The family is listed in the 1880 census as being mulatto.  Medora’s mother, Ann Kerby was listed as black and born in Maryland in 1827.

In 1870, the family was in Tyler, Texas; in 1880, Dallas, Texas; 1900; and 1910-1930 in Los Angeles, California.  Since Texas, Louisiana, and Maryland were slave states, the Spikes brothers’ parents and grandparents at least, were born into slavery. Dorothea Clymer sent us this information about the Spikes brothers

Thank you Karl Koenig for information about the Spikes brothers.