Alice and Bix

Albert Haim, Chris Barry

Abstract


Just weeks before his death in the summer of 1931, Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke wrote to his parents that he was planning to marry a young lady named Alice O’Connell, mother’s maiden name Weiss. For years, aficionados and historians searched for her, hoping to learn more about Bix from one of the last people to know him.  But they met with failure.  Bix had the names of Alice’s father and mother reversed. We have identified the young woman as Alice Weiss, who, in 1931 was married to bassist Rex Gavitte and was listed in the 1930 U.S. Census as Alice Gavitte, head of the household, living in Astoria, Long Island, New York with her younger sister Veronica. With the help of members of the Weiss family and through research in public documents, we have been able to construct a fairly detailed biographical sketch for Alice. Alice kept Bix’s piano from the time he died in August 1931 until she died in 1982. We have traced Bix’s piano to its current owner and purchased it. It is currently on permanent loan to the Bix Beiderbecke Museum and Archives in Davenport, Iowa.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14713/jjs.v9i1.26

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