26 July 2012

Byrd Man of Bogalusa : Professor Longhair

Professor Longhair, pioneer of New Orleans genre of rhythm and blues, circa 1970.

The late Henry Roeland Byrd, a.k.a. Professor Longhair, was one of the most unique stylists in New Orleans rhythm & blues. His piano style combined mainstream blues and boogie woogie with the Afro-Caribbean rhumba rhythms. This stylistic blend and Byrd's unorthodox way of playing, singing (and whistling) enlivened such songs as "Tipitina," "In The Night," "Big Chief" and "Mardi Gras In New Orleans."
These songs became unofficial anthems of a cultural renaissance that swept New Orleans during the 1970s. In addition, Byrd was a major influence on the next generation of rhythm & blues pianists, including Dr. John, James Booker, Allen Toussaint, and Art Neville. (From LouisianaFolklife.org)