When I first learned Black and White Rag, it was off of the 4 World Champion Fiddlers album that featured Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor, Mark O’Connor, Terry Morris, and Benny Thomas. Terry was the one that played Black and White, and I still think love the endings he put on the A Part (2 of the endings I play on this tune were more or less copied from his version.) I played this tune quite a bit in my contest rounds back when I was still in high school, and it usually served me well. I knew that it was a piano tune originally, but up until today I was under the impression that it was a Scott Joplin tune.
I have learned lots of cool things already doing the fiddle tune a day about the history of these tunes, and it turns out the Black and White Rag was written by George Botsford and made famous by a lady by the name of Winifred Atwell. And, at some point it became one of the most popular rags played by contest fiddlers.
The History of Black and White Rag according to Wikipedia
Black and White Rag is a 1908 ragtime composition by George Botsford.
The first known recording of this piece was by Albert Benzler, recorded on Lakeside/U.S.Everlasting Cylinder #380 in June 1911. This recording is somewhat rare (Lakeside/U.S.Everlasting cylinders, though molded celluloid on a wax/fiber core, were made in small batches), and significant. Edison featured the Black & White Rag on one of his Early Diamond Disc Records (50116)from 1913 played by a Brass Orchestra.
One of the best known versions of this piece of music was recorded in 1952 by pianist Winifred Atwell, and 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. The recording became a million selling gold record, and in the UK was later used as the theme tune for the long-running BBC2 television snooker tournament, Pot Black.
Black and White Rag was also later arranged for use as the music in the original 1985 BBC Computer game, Repton, and some of its sequels.
The tune has also become a fiddle standard with recordings by musicians such as Johnny Gimble and Bennie Thomasson.