Eddie Bo: The Passing of a Legend

Published on: March 20th, 2009

Eddie Bo (Photo by Masahiro Sumori)

Eddie Bo in 2004 (Photo by Masahiro Sumori)

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.

Photo by Eddie BoEddie 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.


As I wandered into the room where I have the OZ' playing... I heard the news. Another great one, gone. Ouch... that hurt.

There was a moment after the levees broke when I thought I might not hear New Orleans music performed by New Orleans musicians in New Orleans again. On my first night back in October 2005, I went to the re-opening of Rock N Bowl. To hear Eddie Bo, tickling out the first notes of "Big Chief" made me almost break down and cry for joy. It was such a special moment for me, which I re-live whenever I hear that song or hear Eddie Bo's name. He will be missed dearly.

How true about worries on the music fading from New Orleans post K...thanks for sharing your RNB moment.

New Orleans and the world is poorer. Up here in Norway, we had the pleasure and the privilege to see Eddie Bo perform in September. As always, he left the crowd screaming for more, smiling from ear to ear. I feel deeply grateful for being allowed to perform with him here, and very saddened by his passing. My family and I pay our deepest respects to a truly great man.

The man who sang "Check your bucket", just kicked it.

We lost Snooks, Antoinette and now Eddie Bo. Jazzfest will have a somewhat bittersweet feel to it.

There are some good red beans cookin' in heaven right now!

Bye Eddie, your music will live forever!

I came-up in the neighborhood known as Zion City (the area between South Broad, Washington Ave, Earhart Blvd and South Lopez St). When I was growing-up, Zion City was a closely-knitted community that consisted of approximately 15 square(city) blocks and everybody knew you. But, only a few New Orleanians knew this area by its name (Zion City). I will always cherish my childhood days growing up in Zion City.

EDDIE BO knew Zion City, and Zion City knew EDDIE BO!

Good-bye Eddie; may you fare well.

I too was at that memorable Grand Re-Opening of the Rock'n'Bowl in October 2005. The joy that Eddie gave us all was truly healing.

Blessed and honored to have been asked by Eddie to start each set by singing a few songs before he came onstage, I felt that night that our beloved New Orleans WOULD survive after all.

Eddie, you left this world a much better place for your having lived in it. Your rich legacy will live on.


I used to tell Mr. Eddie " You are my sunshine!"
He will ALWAYS be my sunshine...Eddie always had a smile
for everyone no matter what he was going through himself.
I will never forget the inspiration that he gave to all us
musicians around him and how selfishly he gave of himself
in performance and always promoting other artists.
There is one heck of a party going on in heaven!
I so miss you, Mr. Eddie...I will love you forever...

There will always be a special place in the heart of WWOZ for Eddie Bo.

During a Fund Drive in 1999 Mr. Bo was scheduled to stop by the station. The day of his appearance his home caught on fire. Despite great personal loss, Mr. Bo left his smoldering home, came to the station (reeking of smoke!), and helped with the fund drive. To me, that spoke volumes.

Thank you Mr. Bo, for that kindest of gestures, and for all of the great music you gave us over the years.

What a time I and my sister have had over the years with Eddie Bo. My heart is sadden but I only can say this is one life we can celebrate. It is time to second line. Rest in Peace Eddie Bo and to your family be proud he served God well. Ms. Veronica my sister and I alway think of you and will keep you in our prayers.

Farewell Friend

It is with great sadness that I write this note about Eddie Bo.
Back around 1971 I had the pleasure to engineer some of Eddie's recording sessions at a small garage studio on Metairie Road. He was an incredible person and musician and was wonderful to work with. I remember recording his Rubber Band and Check Your Bucket, but I know there were other tunes recorded, that after all these years have slipped from my memory.

My condolences go out to his family. He will never be forgotten.

Bob Lawrence

I can't thank Eddie Bo enough for the grooves and the goodness.
His smile was a beacon. One of my daughters, whom I took to see him at Jazz Fest when she was 9, framed his photo with the inscription, "Eddie Bo Rocks!" I told him about that one night at Rock N Bowl and he remembered it the next time he saw her. Eddie's got 'em doin the Popeye at the pearly gates right now - "you got diamonds in your back!" ...and Snooks is right there yelling "Yeah!"

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