Ragtime legend's legacy continues from Gallatin home - WSMV News 4

Ragtime legend's legacy continues from Gallatin home

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Johnny Maddox Johnny Maddox

A Ragtime music legend is now sought by young piano players nationwide at his Gallatin home.

In the 1940s and ‘50s, Gallatin’s Johnny Maddox was on top of the world playing the Ragtime style of piano music. He is now retired and has left quite a legacy.

Maddox, 87, receives phone calls and visits from aspiring young piano players who want to learn at the foot of a master.

“’Cause it’s happy music,” Maddox said. “Ragtime was never dull or dreary.”

Maddox was the first man to ever sell a million copies of a piano record. He was a national chart topper and nightclub regular with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Maddox spent 73 years on the piano. Now, he mostly listens.

“When your mind can do it and your fingers can’t, it’s time to quit,” Maddox said. “And that’s exactly what I did.”

Adam Swanson also loves Ragtime and visits Maddox regularly from his Michigan home.

“I found out who he was when I was 12 years old and had to go see him play,” Swanson said.

For more than 10 years, Swanson has come to Gallatin to learn from the best.

“Musical treasure is an understatement,” Swanson said.

The protege and his pilgrimage prove Swanson is more than just a fan.

“Adam’s carrying on where I left off,” Maddox said.

Maddox said he is happy and hopeful that a 20-year-old can keep Ragtime alive.

“Personally, I love the melodies of that period so much better,” Swanson said. “People today don’t know what they’re missing. They really don’t.”

While Maddox said his fingers can’t keep up, he did take a quick spin with Swanson. A lifelong Ragtime habit is hard to break.

“I still love the music,” Maddox said. “I’ll never quit loving the music.”

Maddox said he is a little more likely to bang out some Ragtime on the piano when there are no cameras around.

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