I Didn't Make A Million

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Whitey Smith was a jazz drummer from San Francisco who landed in Shanghai in 1922, just in time to help ignite the Jazz Age in one of the world’s most entertainment-crazed cities. It is said he brought Jazz to China, and that claim is arguably true. This memoir tells the story of his amazing life and adventures in Shanghai nightlife in the 1920s and 1930s, and then as a nightclub owner and internee in a Japanese camp during World War II. It is written with great humor, a collection of the great yarns he would have told at the bar through the years.


Whitey Smith, born in Denmark in 1897, was a jazz drummer and nightclub owner. He and his family arrived in San Francisco just before the earthquake of 1906, and grew up there, playing in bands and boxing semi-professionally. In 1922 he was incited to go to Shanghai by a club owner, and he spent the rest of his life in Asia. He was one of the first musicians to present jazz to Chinese audiences and was instrumental in changing Shanghai nightlife. In the latest 1930s, he moved to Manila, was interned during the Japanese occupation and was a nightclub operator there through the 1950s. He died in 1966.