New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint dead at 77

10 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Allen Toussaint, New Orleans R&B Musician, Dies at 77.

Legendary New Orleans musician and composer Allen Toussaint, seen at a benefit in his honour in 2013, has died after suffering a heart attack following a concert in Madrid. New Orleans music mainstay Allen Toussaint died after a performance in Madrid, Spain on Monday Night, his family confirmed to New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL. In 1958, at age 20, Toussaint recorded his debut album The Wild Sounds of New Orleans under the name Tousan (he thought people wouldn’t know how to pronounce Toussaint – it sounded like Too-sant).

His songs have been recorded by eminent musicians for the past 50 years, including Lee Dorsey, The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer, Lowell George, Otis Redding, Dr John, Irma Thomas and Elvis Costello. Toussaint was born in New Orleans’ Gert Town, a working class neighbourhood of the city, where he lived in a “shotgun” house — so-called because you could stand at the front door and fire a shotgun through to the other side of the house. The prolific Toussaint was widely acclaimed and, in 2013, received the National Medal of Arts from US President Barack Obama for his contributions as a composer, producer, and performer. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press) He went on to become one of the city’s most legendary and celebrated performers.

He has never lost his love for the piano playing of Professor Longhair (he calls him his “Bach of popular music”) and said he is happier in the background, where he has built a formidable reputation as a skilled arranger and producer. In the ’70s, he worked with stars like Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, The Meters, and Paul Simon , and his songs were later covered by the Rolling Stones, Glen Campbell, Jerry Garcia, and more.

He kept a busy schedule, appearing in the United States and in Europe in recent weeks, with plans to perform in Belgium and Britain after his appearance in Spain. He modestly says that “my life hasn’t been performing; it’s been in the studio”, but he is a charismatic performer, as his Grammy awards shows He has also starred in the recent David Simon HBO series Treme, about New Orleans. Last week, it was announced that Toussaint and Simon would perform together on Dec. 8 for a New Orleans Artists Against hunger and Homelessness benefit. “After his hometown was battered by Katrina and Allen was forced to evacuate, he did something even more important for his city – he went back.

Allen has devoted his musical talent to lifting up and building up a city,” President Obama said when awarding him the medal. “Today, he’s taking the stage all over the world, with all kinds of incredible talent, doing everything he can to revive the legendary soul of the Big Easy.” Toussaint as he sat at a piano and sang. “The @teatrolara is a Southern party thanks to the great Allen Toussaint,” a local music club wrote on Twitter. Toussaint said his career was rebooted a decade ago when Hurricane Katrina forced him to move to New York, where he often performed alone at Joe’s Pub on Lafayette Street.

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