Mezz is mentioned in the original 1936 recording of 'If You're a Viper' by Stuff Smith. This song has gone on to see many recordings, including the epic Fats Waller recording of the song (called 'The Reefer Song'). High times rated the song #14 in their top 25 pot songs of all time in 2002.
His autobiography 'Really the Blues' he explains that the moment he heard jazz music, he "was going to be a Negro musician, hipping [teaching] the world about the blues the way only Negroes can." Mezz believed that he was actually, physically, turning black. He was busted smuggling joints into a jazz club at the 1939 World's Fair, and sent to jail. He explained to the officers that he was "colored, even if I don't look it" and requested to be housed in the segregated 'colored' part of the jail.
Mezz lived out the last 20 years of his life in Paris, dying in 1972.
Listen to You'se a Viper on YouTube.
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