Pianist Ralph Sutton, a modern master of classic stride piano, died Sunday, Dec. 30, after suffering a stroke the previous day. He was 79. Sutton collapsed at a restaurant in Evergreen, Colo., near his home in Bailey.
Sutton was born in Hamburg, Mo., on Nov. 4, 1922. He first heard stride music as a nine year old when he heard Fats Waller on the radio. It was Waller, James P. Johnson and Willie “The Lion” Smith who influenced Sutton,
and he, along with Dick Wellstood and Dick Hyman, kept the stride-piano tradition alive and pure for generations to hear well after its heydays in the 1920s to 1940s.