Legendary New Orleans pianist, singer and composer Allen Toussaint passed away after one last show in Madrid, Spain last night.
His career reads like a story book legend, with humble beginnings in a shotgun shack, a lucky break filling in for an ailing friend to eventually rising to the rank of New Orleans musical aristocracy. The list of artists he collaborated is a virtual who’s who of the last fifty years of music, with names like Robert Plant, Paul McCartney, Jerry Garcia, The Meters, Dr. John, Lee Dorsey, The Band and too many more to name.
Hurricane Katrina forced him from his home town, and he settled into the biggest city in the world, New York…a fitting home for a musical giant. Bringing a second line flair to his playing and a distinct beauty and flavor, his arrangements and compositions were at the heart of hundreds of songs throughout the sixties, with his gentle touch becoming an unseen touchstone to a generation’s musical vocabulary.
In his decades spanning career, he found hits with artists in every era, starting with artists like Lee Dorsey:
In the late sixties and seventies he found himself going in a funkier direction, scoring hits with many collaborators, including a number one with Patti Labelle in her smash “Lady Marmalade.”
As a producer he worked with many legendary acts, and his work with The Band created music that would comprise some of their finest, and become the back bone of the legendary film The Last Waltz. Here he is at the “Love For Levon” tribute concert with the classic “Life Is A Carnival.”
A member of both the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and The Louisiana Hall Of Fame, he was not only honored with awards, but in honorifics as the artists who covered his compositions included everyone from Boz Scaggs to Jerry Garcia. Jerry Garcia found his work captivating, and produced this beautiful rendition of Toussaint’s “I’ll Take A Melody.”.
Toussaint even took part in the May “Dear Jerry” musical celebration of Garcia’s songbook.
He died as he lived, entertaining a crowd at a performance just hours before he shed this mortal coil. He’s survived by two children and an entire generation of music fans. Rest In Peace sir, your time here on Earth will not be forgotten.