Black and White Rag

The "Black and White Rag" is a 1908 ragtime composition by George Botsford.[1]

"Black And White Rag"
Sheet music cover, 1908
Songwriter(s)George Botsford

The song was recorded widely for both the phonograph and player piano,[2] and was the third ragtime composition to sell over one million copies of sheet music.[3] The song was first recorded in 1909, as performed by the Victor orchestra for a Victor disc release.[3] The first known cylinder recording of this piece was by Albert Benzler, recorded on Lakeside/U.S.Everlasting Cylinder #380 in June 1911.[4] This recording is somewhat rare (Lakeside/U.S.Everlasting cylinders, though molded celluloid on a wax/fiber core, were made in small batches). Edison featured the "Black and White Rag" on one of his Early Diamond Disc Records (50116) from 1913 played by a Brass Orchestra.

Pianist Wally Rose revitalized interest in the song with his 1941 recording,[5] leading to the one of the best-known versions: a 1952 recording by Trinidadian pianist Winifred Atwell, which helped her to establish an international profile. Originally the B-side of another composition, "Cross Hands Boogie", "Black and White Rag" was championed by the popular disc jockey Jack Jackson, and started a craze for Atwell's honky-tonk style of playing.[6] The recording became a million selling gold record, and in the United Kingdom was later used as the theme tune for the long-running BBC2 television snooker tournament, Pot Black.[7]

"Black and White" Rag was also later arranged for use as the music in the 1985 BBC Computer game Repton and some of its sequels.[8]

The piece has also become a fiddle standard with recordings by musicians such as Johnny Gimble and Benny Thomasson.


  1. ^ Jasen, David A.; Trebor Jay Tichenor (1989). Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History. Dover. p. 140. ISBN 0-486-25922-6.
  2. ^ Blesh, Rudi; Harriet, Janis (23 March 2011). The All Played Ragtime. Read Books Limited. ISBN 9781446546901. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b Sullivan, Steve (17 May 2017). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings Volume 3. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 19. ISBN 9781442254497. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Black and White rag". UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  5. ^ Jasen, David A. (15 October 2013). A Century of American Popular Music. Taylor & Francis. p. 23. ISBN 9781135352646. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  6. ^ "WINIFRED ATWELL". Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  7. ^ "My Mother's Sheet Music - Winifred Atwell". My Mother's Sheet Music. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  8. ^ Paterson, Jim. "Ragtime Music - its History, Composers and Influences". MFiles. Retrieved 21 December 2019.