Friday, June 17, 2016

Rufus Rockhead

As I left the Atwater Market and headed down the Avenue Atwater toward the canal, I saw this interesting street sign. I had no idea who this guy is/was/could be. So, upon my return to France, I did some extensive quick and dirty internet research and learned that Mr. Rockhead owned and operated a very popular jazz club in this part of Montréal from 1928 through the fifties. He was born in 1899 in Jamaica. And he was black.

A relatively new apartment building at the intersection of Rufus-Rockhead and Atwater.

A black club owner in those days was extremely unusual. In fact, some believe he was the first in Montréal, and perhaps even Canada. Mr. Rockhead used his savings from his job as a railway porter to open the club. Most of the famous jazz names of the day played there, people like Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. Now I know how this street got its name.


  1. I wonder if somewhere there is a Mr. Jazzhead who owns and operates a rock music venue.

  2. That'sa WOW WCS. Some great Jazz artists in that stable.

  3. How interesting. What a line up of stars! He did not use his probably modest wages to support a wife and children? Not saying anything but....

  4. I would have loved to have heard Nina Simone!

  5. Walt

    Did you see this one?


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