Boom's BluesMusic, Journalism, and Friendship in Wartime

Boom's BluesMusic, Journalism, and Friendship in Wartime

Wim Verbei

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9781496805119

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


This book stands as both a remarkable biography of J. Frank G. Boom (1920–1953) and a recovery of his incredible contribution to blues scholarship originally titled The Blues: Satirical Songs of the North American Negro. The book tells how and when the Netherlands was introduced to African American blues music and describes the equally dramatic and peculiar friendship that existed between Boom and jazz critic and musicologist Will Gilbert, who worked for the Kultuurkamer during World War II and had been charged with the task of formulating the Nazi's Jazzverbod, the decree prohibiting the public performance of jazz. The book ends with the annotated and complete text of Boom's The Blues, providing the international world at last with an English version of the first book-length study of the blues. At the end of the 1960s, a series of 13 blues paperbacks edited by Paul Oliver for the London publisher November Books began appearing. One manuscript landed on his desk that had been written in 1943 by a then 23-year-old Frank (Frans) Boom. Its publication was announced on the back jacket of the last three Blues Paperbacks in 1971 and 1972. Yet it never was published and the manuscript once more disappeared. In October 1996, Dutch blues expert and publicist Verbei went in search of the presumably lost manuscript and the story behind its author. It only took him a couple of months to track down the manuscript, but it took another ten years to glean the full story behind the extraordinary Frans Boom, who passed away in 1953 in Indonesia.