Johnny St. Cyr was born on April 17, 1890 in New Orleans, Louisiana. St. He led several bands in the Crescent City beginning around 1905 and performed on the riverboats with Fate Marable. He played for several leading New Orleans bands including A.J. Piron, the Superior, Olympia and Tuxedo bands before moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1923 with King Oliver.
He is most commonly remembered as a member of Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven bands. He also played and recorded with Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. St. Cyr also performed with Don Cook’s Dreamland Orchestra. He composed the popular standard Oriental Strut, noted for its adventurous chord sequence.
In 1930 Johnny returned to New Orleans to make a living as a plasterer while still playing with local bands led by Paul Barbarin or Alphonse Picou. In 1955 he moved to Los Angeles, California and returned to music full time. From 1961 until his death in 1966, he was the bandleader of the Young Men from New Orleans that featured Barney Bigard, performers at Disneyland.
Banjoist and guitarist Johnny St. Cyr passed away on June 17, 1966 in Los Angeles, California.