It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Robert "Bob" French, a top-notch New Orleans musician and an irreplaceable member of the WWOZ family.
A Viewing and Service will be held on Saturday, November 17, from 1-3 PM at Rhodes Funeral Home, 3933 Washington Avenue, New Orleans.
French was a third-generation musician and the son of New Orleans banjo player Albert "Papa" French. At Papa French's passing in 1977, Bob took over his position as leader of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, New Orleans' oldest continually working jazz band, for which he had been playing drums. Not only was French's father a musician, but his grandfather was a tuba player and his uncle a trombonist. At the age of 15, French was in a band that also included Art Neville, Charles Neville, and James Booker.
Over the course of his long career, French recorded with a host of New Orleans musicians, including Dave Bartholomew, James "Sugarboy" Crawford, Fats Domino, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Earl King, Ellis Marsalis and many others.
French was an influential and much-admired host of “French Cooking” and other shows on WWOZ featuring New Orleans music.
French's place in the New Orleans music community was not limited to that of a musician and show host; he also mentored young musicians. The 2007 recording “Marsalis Music Honors Bob French”, released on Marsalis Music/Rounder Records, was a collaboration with friends and former protégés including Harry Connick, Jr., Branford Marsalis, and Trombone Shorty.