How Jelly Roll Morten got his name.

Jelly Roll Morten was born Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe and lived between 1885 and 1941. He claimed to have invented Jazz and while this was certainly exaggeration on his part, he was probably the best Ragtime piano player of his day. Jelly Roll’s self aggrandizement did not stop with music but extended into the realm of women, as his name suggest. The term “Jelly Roll” was black slang for vulva. It may derive from “Jelly” meaning semen and dates back to around 1622, when the term appeared in John Fletcher’s” The Begger’s Bush.” To “jerk one’s jelly” meant to masturbate. “Jelly Roll” would later appear in many Blues songs such as “I Aint Gonna Give Nobody My Jelly Roll.” In addition to meaning vulva, it could also refer to a man that appreciated such, or was a bit of a ladies’ man. By taking the name of Jelly Roll Morten, La Menthe was most likely stating his prowess with the women.