For over half a century, dedicated fans have dreamed of a permanent museum and archive to preserve the memory of the world-famous Bix Beiderbecke and his music. The long-planned Bix Beiderbecke Museum and Archive opens to the public on Monday, July 24, 2017, in its new home at the River Music Experience in Bix’s hometown of Davenport, Iowa.
Born in Davenport in 1903, Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke gained fame as a self-taught jazz cornet player with a unique sound. Considered a musical prodigy, and gifted with both perfect pitch and a phenomenal musical memory, Bix could pick out tunes on the piano by the time he could reach the keys. Bix heard jazz when his brother came home from the service and bought a Victrola. Bix fell in love with the recordings of Tiger Rag and Skeleton Jangle. He borrowed a cornet from a neighbor and taught himself to play. The riverboats with musicians from New Orleans also brought jazz music up the Mississippi River.