New Orleans Musician Allen Toussaint Dies in Madrid, Age 77

10 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Allen Toussaint, Iconic New Orleans Songwriter and Producer, Dead at 77.

MADRID (AP) — Legendary New Orleans musician and composer Allen Toussaint, who penned such classics as “Working in a Coal Mine” and “Lady Marmalade,” has died after suffering a heart attack following a concert he performed in Spain. 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.

Allen Toussaint, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriter, producer, pianist, performer and New Orleans legend, passed away Monday night while on tour in Spain. 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). Toussaint was born in New Orleans’ Gert Town, a working class neighborhood 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 Grammy-winning Toussaint was one of the Big Easy’s most influential, beloved and iconic musicians, having penned oft-covered songs like “Working in the Coal Mine,” “Mother-in-Law,” “Fortune Teller,” “Southern Nights,” “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,” “Get Out of My Life, Woman” and countless more. Toussaint’s songs were recorded by the likes of Jerry Garcia, Ringo Starr, Little Feat, Robert Palmer, the Yardbirds, Glen Campbell, Bonnie Raitt, the Band, Warren Zevon, the Rolling Stones and many more.

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. 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. 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. John and the Neville Brothers as well as superstars like Paul McCartney – who recorded portions of Wings’ 1975 LP Venus and Mars with Toussaint on piano at the studio – and Paul Simon, New Orleans’ WWL writes. When Barack Obama presented Toussaint with the prestigious National Medal of Arts in July 2013, the American President said the pianist and songwriter “has devoted his musical talent to lifting up and building up a city”.

However, Hurricane Katrina ravaged Toussaint’s home and studio in 2005, forcing the musician to take a more prominent role in the spotlight as opposed to just songwriting; he toured frequently in the years following Katrina and collaborated on an album with Elvis Costello in 2006 titled The River in Reverse. Below, watch video from Toussaint’s final performance. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings.

Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

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