We are very sad to learn that pianist Eddie Bo, one of New Orleans' greatest and most beloved performers, passed on Wednesday, March 18 at the age of 79. His legacy is profound, and he was considered the last of the "junker"-style pianists, fusing jazz, R&B, funk, soul, and blues seasoned with New Orleans flavor.
Edwin Joseph Bocage got his start in 1955 on the Ace Records label, and by 1961 he had his first hit, the novelty dance tune "Check Mr. Popeye." He went on to release more singles than any New Orleans artist except Fats Domino, including "Check Your Bucket" and his signature "Hook and Sling," which made it to #13 on the R&B chart in 1969.
Eddie Bo was more than just an entertainer, penning "My Dearest Darling" for Etta James and producing albums for the likes of Art Neville, Irma Thomas, and Johnny Adams. He even lent his carpentry skills – by which he sustained a living through much of the 1970s – to build a studio for the Ric label, just one of over 40 labels he worked with over the years.
He amassed an impressive collection of awards and honors, including a pair of Lifetime Acheivement Awards from the South Louisiana Music Association and the title of New Orleans musical ambassador to Pakistan.
The Bocage family thanks everyone for their support during this difficult time. WWOZ's heart goes out to the Bocages and all those who knew and loved Eddie Bo.
A memorial service is planned for Wednesday, April 1, at Mid-City Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl on 4133 S. Carrollton Avenue, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. There will be no formal funeral service, as Eddie wished, but the memorial is planned so that Eddie's friends, fans, family and musicians who loved him can celebrate his life and experience some closure. Music, food and drink and good memories will be shared by all. The event is open to the public.