Anita Gonzales with Jelly Roll Morton
on the West Coast, c. 1920
This studio photograph is the only surviving document from Jelly Roll’s renewed relationship with the tempestuous Anita Gonzales (born Bessie Johnson in Montgomery, Alabama). Jelly Roll and Anita travelled the length of the West Coast of the United States during the period 1918 to 1921, and even ventured to Canada and Alaska. Although he referred to Anita as his wife, there is no evidence that they were ever legally married.
The photograph was first published in The Record Changer magazine dated July-August 1951, page 14. 
Rudi Blesh and Harriet Janis, the renowned authors of They All Played Ragtime (1950), supplied the photograph to The Record Changer.
Shown in Mr. Jelly Lord (1980) by Laurie Wright, page 204, and in Oh, Mister Jelly (1999) edited by William Russell, page 545.
courtesy of Peter Hanley
© 2005 Ate van Delden Collection