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Professor Longhair: “Big Chief” and “Tipitina”

Professor Longhair was a New Orleans piano player who greatly influenced Dr. John. Here is the first paragraph of an interesting site dedicated to the colorful and eccentric musician:

Henry Roeland Byrd (a.k.a Professor Longhair) was Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, on December 19, 1918. The Henry Roeland Byrd story is fundamentally the story of an artist who created his own musical world, constantly refining and elaborating a distinctive personal style. It may have been too idosyncratic to ever capture mainstream popularity during Longhair’s lifetime, but it was so striking and individual that it ultimately became the definitive standard for New Orleans piano players. Continue Reading…

Here is more, from Alligator Records:

New Orleans is said to be a city where having a party has been elevated from a casual pastime to a way of life. Nobody understood this better than Professor Longhair, one of the pioneers of New Orleans rhythm & blues. His influence can be heard in Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint and Dr. John, among many others. Known for his unique mix of blues, jazz, calypso, ragtime, and zydeco, “Fess” (as he was known) defined and captured the essence of New Orleans in his music. Born Henry Roeland Byrd in Bogalusa, Louisiana 1918, and raised in New Orleans, Fess started performing at an early age, often dancing down Bourbon Street for tips. Continue Reading…

Above is Big Chief and below is Tipitina.

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.