New Orleans Musical Icon Allen Toussaint Dead At 77
November 10, 2015 at 1:05 PM (PT)
Legendary NEW ORLEANS musician and composer ALLEN TOUSSAINT passed away after suffering a heart attack following a concert in MADRID at the age of 77.
Emergency services spokesman JAVIER AYUSO said rescue workers were called to the musician's hotel early this morning and managed to revive him after he suffered a heart attack, though he stopped breathing during the ambulance ride to the hospital, with efforts to revive him again unsuccessful.
TOUSSAINT had performed last night at MADRID's LARA THEATER.
He began his career as a teenager in the 1950s, releasing his first album in 1958 under the name TOUSAN. In 1960, he became the house producer, arranger and songwriter for the MINIT label, working on songs like ERNIE K-DOE’s “Mother in Law,” LEE DORSEY’s “Ya Ya” and JESSIE HILL’s “Ooh Poo Pah Doo.” Many of TOUSSAINT's songs were covered by other musicians, including "Working in the Coal Mine," "Ride Your Pony," "Fortune Teller," "Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)," "Southern Nights," "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky," "I'll Take a Melody," "Get Out of My Life, Woman" and "Mother-in-Law."
His piano and arrangements appear on hundreds of records during the early '60s by LEE DORSEY and CHRIS KENNER, among many others. During the '70s, he turned to his classic funk sound, writing and producing for THE METERS, DR. JOHN and the WILD TCHOUPITOULAS MARDI GRAS INDIANS tribe. He also began to spread out of the city, working with such artists as B.J. THOMAS, ROBERT PALMER, PAUL SIMON, WILLY DeVILLE, SANDY DENNY and ELVIS COSTELLO, among others.
THE ROLLING STONES posted their cover of his song "Fortune Teller" on TWITTER, with the message “RIP ALLEN TOUSSAINT.” Both HARRY SHEARER and NEW ORLEANS native HARRY CONNICK JR., also posted messages.
“We have lost a giant,” SHEARER wrote.
According to his website, TOUSSAINT said his career was revitalized when HURRICANE KATRINA forced him to relocate to NEW YORK, where he often performed alone at JOE'S PUB.TOUSSAINT was inducted into the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME In 1998, and was a member of the LOUISIANA MUSIC HALL OF FAME. In 2013 he was awarded the NATIONAL HUMANITIES MEDAL by PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA at a ceremony in WASHINGTON, DC.