In Memoriam: Allen Toussaint
Early on the morning of Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 we lost a legend; a giant not only in the New Orleans music community, but the global music community, Mr. Allen Toussaint.
An inductee into the Blues Hall Of Fame, the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, and a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, as a performer, producer and composer, Mr. Toussaint was a beacon for New Orleans music throughout the world. He wrote countless hits such as “Working in the Coal Mine,” “Mother-in-Law,” “It’s Raining,” “Fortune Teller” and “Southern Nights,” just to name a few. His compositions were recorded by fellow New Orleans musicians Ernie K-Doe, Benny Spellman, Art and Aaron Neville, Lee Dorsey and Irma Thomas, and covered by globally recognized musicians as varied as the Rolling Stones, DEVO, Otis Redding, Phish, The O’Jays, Allison Krauss and Robert Plant, Boz Scaggs and The Who. As a producer, he worked with The Meters, Dr. John, and the Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians tribe. He also began to work with non-New Orleans artists such as B.J. Thomas, Robert Palmer, Willy DeVille, Sandy Denny, Elkie Brooks, Solomon Burke, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello. He arranged the horn music for The Band’s 1971 album Cahoots, plus Rock of Ages and The Last Waltz film, in conjunction with arranging horn parts for their concert repertoire.
Throughout the years since Preservation Hall and Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s inception in 1961, Mr. Toussaint has also collaborated with members of the Preservation Hall musical collective. At The Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s 50th Anniversary celebration on January, 7th, 2012 at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Mr. Toussaint performed a song he wrote inspired by the band called appropriately “Preservation Hall Jazz Band.”
It was hard to believe that after all those years of playing together in New Orleans and festivals around the world they had never hit the road together; until 2014′s Oh Yeah! tour. Unlike many tours, Oh Yeah! combined a show featuring collaborations between artists. “I’ve been playing with the guys in Preservation Hall around New Orleans since the 1960’s, so I’m really excited to finally get out on the road and perform together with them every night on a tour,” said Mr. Toussaint, “we’re going to have a lot of fun, and so will the audience.” The nearly two month U.S. tour stretched from coast to coast, from Vermont to California, including the tour kickoff, Friday, October 3rd, 2014 at the inaugural Preservation Hall Ball in New Orleans at the Civic Theatre.
Watch Mr. Toussaint’s full performance below:
Mr. Toussaint has made an impact that will never be lost in New Orleans or the world. He was humble, kind and had a style so uniquely his own. Simply, there will never be anyone else, musically, stylistically and graciously, quite like Mr. Allen Toussaint. He will be incredibly missed.
Photo courtesy Dino Perrucci.