Mickey Correa: A Karachi Goan Boy Who Became India’s Greatest Jazz Musician

By Menin Rodrigues


28 August 2020

Mickey Correa was born in Mombasa (Kenya) in
1913 before moving to Karachi in 1924 where he spent most of his
childhood, attending St. Patrick’s High School and playing on the
streets of Saddar. His penchant for music and Jazz was evident
from an early age, as he was adept in a range of instruments
(piano, violin, clarinet, banjo, guitar, and accordion). He died on 22
September 2011 in Mumbai.

I had the privilege and honor of interviewing Mickey Correa in Goa
on 28 December 2010.

Music came naturally to him and both Mickey and elder brother
Alex, and their ensemble “The Correa Optimists Band” mesmerized audiences in the swinging Karachi of the early 1930’s. Mickey and his band played at the city’s top night clubs entertaining people and playing alongside some of the great jazz musicians who stopped by in Karachi. His popularity as a master jazz musician spread across the country before All-India Radio Bombay invited him for a recording in 1936. There was no looking back, the Karachi-maestro was offered several opportunities to play in a thriving foxtrot city, and at the Eros Cinema (1936) where he displayed his dexterity in churning out a repertoire of classical and contemporary music. He was destined to be a terrific musician.

After much convincing Mickey and his brother Alex moved from Karachi to Bombay in 1939 where he was fated to make an indelible mark on India’s jazz music scene. Mickey’s band played at the city’s celebrity hotspot, the Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba, for 21 consecutive years (1939-1960), a record for a single band to have played for so long at one venue. People from all over India and faraway lands came to Bombay to see Mickey perform and dance away into the wee hours of every other new day!
In his interview, Mickey fondly remembers the best years of his life as a budding musician, his time at school and playing on the streets of Karachi, one of the cleanest cities at that time. ©

About Amin H. Karim MD

Graduate of Dow Medical College Class of 1977.
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