From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Compton, John Glover

(born: 1884  -  died: 1964) 

John Glover Compton, born in Harrodsburg, KY, was a noted ragtime jazz pianist and entertainer. He was the husband and, for a time, musical partner of vocalist Nettie Lewis.

Beginning in 1902, Compton performed in the theater in Louisville, KY. He moved to Chicago in 1910 where he later led the band known as J. Glover Compton and the Syncopaters.

Compton had at one time worked with the Whitman Sisters before traveling abroad. In 1928, while in Paris, France, Compton took a bullet in the leg when a disagreement erupted between musicians Sidney Bechet and Mike McKendrick and the two exchanged gunfire. Two pedestrians were also shot, but no one was killed.

Compton had been traveling in Europe for a couple of years with the Palm Beach Six when the group settled in Paris; Compton later worked with Crickett Smith. On the day of the shooting, Compton, said to be the instigator, reported that Bechet had fired the first shot. Compton was McKendrick's friend. Both Bechet and McKendrick were arrested and sentenced to 15 months in jail. They later settled their differences, but Bechet, who lived the last decade of his life in Paris, never forgave Compton.

In 1939, Compton returned to the U.S. and performed again in Chicago with Jimmie Noone. In the 1950s, he owned and operated a bar in Chicago.

J. Glover Compton was the son of Laura L. Bowman Compton and John Glover Compton, Sr. [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census and Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index]. 

For more see "No one in any big time way" in Some Hustling This!, by M. Miller; and John Glover Compton by Bill Edwards at

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Mercer County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Harrodsburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Whitman, Albery A.
NKAA Source: Some hustling this! : taking jazz to the world, 1914-1929

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Kentucky African American Musicians in Illinois (Chicago)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Compton, John Glover,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 26, 2021,

Last modified: 2020-10-30 19:56:02