American Music Icons pass
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 99 01:03:26 -0700
Subject: American Music Icons pass
X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649 -=[Fun_People]=-
From: "AmericanLegends Music Org. - ALMO" <ALMO@AmericanLegends.org>
We sadly send news that American Music Icons BEAU JOCQUE, KATIE WEBSTER,
and BREWER PHILLIPS passed away recently:
Heart attack claims life of zydeco star Beau Jocque
By Keith Spera Music writer -
Beau Jocque, the hulking zydeco bandleader who helped revitalize a
southwest Louisiana music tradition and build an audience for it in New
Orleans, died Friday morning September 10, 1999, at his home in Kinder of
an apparent heart attack. He was 45.
"He was one of the most exciting artists I had ever seen," said Rounder
Records' Scott Billington, who produced five of Jocque's albums. "The first
time I saw him reminded me of hearing James Brown or (blues legend) Howlin'
Wolf for the first time. He took zydeco and transformed it into music that
was thoroughly contemporary. He energized the whole scene in south
Jocque gave what turned out to be his final performance Thursday night at
the Mid-City Lanes Rock 'n Bowl on South Carrollton Avenue. Following the
show, he drove home to Kinder. His wife reportedly found him collapsed in
the shower Friday morning.
Jocque's first New Orleans appearance was at the Mid-City Lanes in 1993,
when he already was a star in southwest Louisiana but relatively unknown
locally. Soon, he became one of the top-drawing zydeco acts in New Orleans.
Mid-City Lanes owner John Blancher eventually had to reinforce the dance
floor of his second-story club to accommodate the dancers who turned out to
hear Jocque's propulsive brand of zydeco. "I put support beams underneath
the dance floor for Beau Jocque," Blancher said. "People danced harder when
he played. It was almost hypnotic; he just grabbed (dancers)."
Jocque, whose real name was Andrus Espre, did not set out to be a musician.
After a stint in the military, he worked as a welder. While recovering from
injuries suffered on the job in 1986, he began to toy around with his
father's accordion. Soon he was making forays to zydeco dance halls,
studying other performers.
Contemporary zydeco musicians follow one of two traditions: the older,
percussive style of Boozoo Chavis, who uses a button-key accordion, or the
more rhythm-and-blues-influenced style of Clifton Chenier, who employed a
piano-key accordion. Jocque was of the Chavis tradition, but he updated it
by incorporating stuttering hip-hop beats and riffs from the funk band War
and the Texas blues-rock trio ZZ Top.
"When people would ask him about his influences, he'd be just as quick to
say Carlos Santana or War as he would Boozoo Chavis or Clifton Chenier,"
Billington said. "He came up in the '60s and '70s. Seventies funk was just
as much a part of his sound as the traditional zydeco sound."
Given his unique approach, the popularity of Jocque and his band, the
Zydeco Hi-Rollers, soared. By the early 1990s, he was filling Richard's
Club in Lawtell, Hamilton's Club in Lafayette, and other zydeco halls with
hundreds of dancers, many of whom had previously dismissed zydeco as the
music of their parents and grandparents.
"He brought younger people to the dance hall, and helped make the tradition
relevant for the next generation," said Michael Tisserand, author of "The
Kingdom of Zydeco."
Jocque's 1993 debut for Rounder Records, "Beau Jocque Boogie," is
considered a classic of the genre. It features the anthem "Give Him
Cornbread," which became a massive hit in southwest Louisiana and Jocque's
signature song. Radio stations were flooded with requests, and audiences
would pelt Jocque with cornbread when he performed the song at festivals.
"When that record hit, you couldn't go anywhere in southwest Louisiana
without hearing it coming out of somebody's window or car," Billington
said. "It was the kind of record they played twice in a row on the radio.
When he played Richard's Club, there would be cars up and down the highway
for a half mile in either direction."
Standing more than 6 feet 6 inches tall, Jocque cut a striking figure
onstage; an accordion seemed like a toy in his hands. He was not inclined
to tour as extensively as Geno Delafose, Buckwheat Zydeco and other
artists, but he performed in Turkey and England and appeared on the David
Letterman and Conan O'Brien shows. When the Rolling Stones were in New
Orleans to perform in October 1994, vocalist Mick Jagger and drummer
Charlie Watts made it a point to catch Jocque's show at the Mid-City Lanes.
During the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Mid-City would play host
to good-natured zydeco "battles" pitting Jocque against Chavis. The events
would draw more than 1,000 people, including many who were not typical
zydeco fans. "He definitely introduced new people to zydeco," Blancher
said. "To me, he was the genius of the genre. As long as I've been around,
he had the most impact on the music, with more musicians copying his songs
and trying to do his stuff."
"He was a one-of-a-kind person and musician," Billington said. "He came
from humble beginnings, but he had the vision and belief in himself to
transform himself into this character that he imagined, 'Beau Jocque.'
There was an intensity to Beau Jocque's music that made it transcend genre.
People would see him, and whether they knew zydeco or not, it made an
impact on them. I don't see anyone who really can fill his shoes, who has
that authenticity and emotional substance."
"His talent, warmth and humor made him truly an embodiment of the best of
zydeco and Creole culture," Tisserand said. His death "is like a big tree
fell, and suddenly the forest is real quiet."
Jocque is survived by his wife, Shelly Espre, and two sons. A wake will be
held at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church Hall of Kinder on Tuesday from 4
p.m. until midnight. A funeral will be Wednesday at 8 a.m. at St. Philip
Neri. Ardoin Funeral Home of Kinder is in charge of arrangements.
Blues Singer/Pianist KATIE WEBSTER DEAD AT 63
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
from Alligator Records
September 7, 1999
"Pure sonic dynamite."
"She's that rare commodity in blues: a boogie-woogie piano virtuoso in a
male-and guitar dominated field."
"Rock steady piano playing... a gutsy, soaring voice and sassy lovers'
tidings, put across with a stomp and a hip shake. Her voice is a meaty one,
full of blue, gospelly turns and note bends."
--New York Times
"Rollicking and energetic barrelhouse piano playing...passionate,
gospel-style vocals.... A musician who could be counted on to provide just
the right backing for any style, be it blues, rock n' roll, soul, country
& western, cajun or zydeco."
Blueswoman Katie Webster, known as "The Swamp Boogie Queen," died Sunday,
September 5, 1999 of heart failure at her home in League City, Texas, at
the ge of 63. Webster was acknowledged around the world as the one of the
premier blues artists of her generation for her stomping, boogie-woogie
piano style and soulful singing. As a teen, Webster was already hailed as
South Louisiana's reigning piano queen. She recorded on more than 500
singles during the 1950s and 1960s. She joined Otis Redding's touring band
in 1965 and enjoyed a successful solo career in the 1980s, releasing albums
on Arhoolie and a number of European labels. She signed with Alligator
Records in 1988, cutting three albums for the label: 1988's SWAMP BOOGIE
QUEEN (with guests Bonnie Raitt and Robert Cray), 1989's TWO FISTED MAMA!,
and 1991's NO FOOLIN'. In February 1999, Alligator released DELUXE EDITION,
a collection of Webster's greatest songs. Webster's sassy and sensuous blend
of barrelhouse boogie-woogie, New Orleans R&B, Gulf Coast swamp-pop, deep
bayou blues and Southern gospel-flavored soul placed her among the most
in-demand blues artists in the country.
Born Kathryn Jewel Thorne on January 11, 1936 in Houston, Texas, Webster
first learned piano as a child. Her deeply religious parents strictly warned
her to play only gospel and classical music, going so far as to keep the
piano under lock and key so Katie could only play while being supervised.
But Webster loved the blues, rock and r&b she heard on an old Philco radio
hidden under the bed covers late at night, and would play her secular music
at every opportunity. While still a teenager, Webster moved to south
Louisiana when her parents moved to California. She lived with less rigid
relatives so she could play the music she loved with more freedom. By the
age of 15 she was one of the most requested studio musicians in the region.
Both Jay Miller of Excello Records and Eddie Shuler of Goldband Records used
her extensively on hundreds recordings in the 1950s and 1960s, including
sides with Guitar Junior (Lonnie Brooks), Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester, Lightnin'
Slim, and Clifton Chenier. In 1964, a young Otis Redding caught Webster's
set with her band the Uptighters in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and demanded
she join histouring band the very next day.
Webster toured the country with Redding, and can be heard on his LIVE AT
THE WHISKEY A-GO-GO album. Unable to join Redding on tour in 1967 because
she was pregnant, Webster was not on the plane that took Redding's life.
Devastated by his death, she didn't give up music altogether, but kept a
very low profile until the early 1980s, when she made her debut tour of
Europe. European audiences couldn't get enough of Webster, and she returned
over 30 times. During the 1980s, Webster began to win over her American
audience with numerous festival gigs, including the Chicago Blues Festival,
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, The Boulder Blues Festival, The
Newport Folk Festival, The San Francisco Blues Festival and many others.
"She can floor the timid listener," raved the Boston Globe. "Webster can
say more about the pain of betrayal with one low, sad growl, and more about
the joy of fighting back against cruel life with one teasing roll of her
eyes, then most could write in a book."
In 1988, Webster teamed up with Alligator Records and went from a cult blues
legend to internationally recognized phenomenon. She received accolades from
a host of publications, including Rolling Stone and Keyboard. She was
nominated for three W.C. Handy Awards (the Grammy of the blues community)
and, in March of 1989, performed for the first time on national television
on NBC's "Sunday Night" program hosted by David Sanborn. In 1992, Webster
joined lablemates Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, Elvin Bishop and Lil' Ed and
the Blues Imperials on a cross-country tour celebrating Alligator's 20th
Anniversary as documented by THE ALLIGATOR RECORDS 2OTH ANNIVERSARY TOUR
album as well as the Bob Mugge documentary, "Pride And Joy: The Story Of
In 1993, Webster was felled by a stroke while touring in Greece, and lost
some of the use of her left hand and almost all of her eyesight, but her
magnificent voice and wonderful right hand, not to mention her inimitable
spirit, kept her going strong. She continued to appear at selected
festivals, though her health wouldn't support extended touring.
Webster is survived by daughters Elizabeth Vereen and Audrey Johnson;
sisters Earline and Irma; brothers Cyrus, Robert and Cornelius; eight
grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, September 13 at Forest Park East Funeral
Home, 21620 Gulf Freeway, Webster, TX, at 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Funeral
services will be held Monday, September 14 at Windsor Village United
Methodist Church, 6000 Heathbrook, Houston, TX.
BLUESMAN BREWER PHILLIPS DEAD;
RECORDED WITH HOUND DOG TAYLOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
from Alligator Records
September 3, 1999
Blues guitarist Brewer Phillips, best known for his recordings and live
performances as a member of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers, died of
natural causes in his South Side apartment on Monday, August 30, 1999.
His signature tune, "Phillips' Theme" was featured on Taylor's 1971 debut
album, HOUND DOG TAYLOR AND THE HOUSEROCKERS for the then-brand-new label,
Alligator Records. That album was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in
1996. The song (as well as "Phillips Goes Bananas") was recently included
on DELUXE EDITION, a collection of Hound Dog Taylor's greatest recordings.
Phillips' unique style -- alternating between playing bass lines and wild
lead guitar -- made the Houserockers rock without the need for a bass
player. He was idolized by younger generation blues players, especially
According to Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer, "Brewer was
the rawest and most energized bluesmen I ever heard. His playing
were totally unpolished; he took lots of musical chances and made
mistakes, but his playing was full of infectious rhythmic drive,
and he had
more fun on the bandstand than virtually anyone I've ever seen. His
was from the earliest days of electric blues guitar. It combined
Chicago styles with wild string bending, natural distortion and
younger blues rockers have never quite been able to match."
In 1997, Phillips joined Cub Koda on Hound Dog Taylor's song, "Take
Five," on Alligator's HOUND DOG TAYLOR -- A TRIBUTE. Hound Dog
Taylor recordings featuring Phillips were 1974's NATURAL BOOGIE, and
two posthumously released albums: 1976's live, Grammy Award-nominated
BEWARE OF THE DOG, and 1982's Grammy Award - nominated
GENUINE HOUSEROCKING MUSIC.
Phillips was born in Coila, Mississippi, probably in 1930, and grew up on
a small farm. He started playing blues as a boy, and gigged around West
Memphis in the late 1940s. First taught by Memphis Minnie, Phillips backed
Roosevelt Sykes, Joe Hill Louis and Memphis Slim. Phillips found work as
a carpenter when he came to Chicago in 1952, and considered music mostly as
a hobby until he recorded with Taylor in 1971. Phillips played in the raw,
distorted style of West Memphis, but considered Memphis Minnie, Jimmy Reed
and Hound Dog Taylor the main influences on his music. He teamed up with
Hound Dog in 1957 in a West Side tavern and stayed with him until Taylor's
death in 1975. While with Taylor, Phillips played the Ann Arbor Blues
Festival in 1970, 1972 and 1973, and toured nationally as well as touring
Australia and New Zealand.
After Taylor's death, Phillips continued making music. He gigged and
recorded with J.B. Hutto and Cub Koda. He played the Chicago Blues
Festival and released his only solo album, HOME BREW, on Delmark
Records in 1996. Information on funeral arrangements is pending.
AmericanLegends Music Organization - "ALMO"
"Promoting the Heritage, Art, Culture & Music of the Americas"
© 1999 Peter Langston