Over the past year, we lost some of our most beloved musicians and friends who've shared their art with us and contributed richness to the musical tapestry of New Orleans and the world. Please join us in remembering their songs and their spirits, and use the Comments section below to add your own tributes to anyone we've missed.
Vocalist, Club Owner b. 1943
The charming widow of legendary R&B singer Ernie K-Doe and leader of the Baby Dolls Mardi Gras Krewe passed on Mardi Gras morning, 2009, at the age of 66. She also owned and operated the Mother-In-Law Lounge, a restaurant and nightclub originally opened by her husband in 1994 and named after one of his hit songs.
Flautist, Saxophonist b. 1943
New Orleans musician Hart McNee passed away July 14, 2009, at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer. Aside from his own group, Hart played bass flute and baritone sax with the John Boutte, the Storyville Stompers, Mas Mamones, Moyuba, and Coco Robicheaux.
Vocalist, b. 1938
The two-time Grammy-winning Chess recording artist passed on June 3, 2009, at the age of 80. Her biggest hit was "Wang Dang Doodle", and she became known as "The Queen of the Blues" thanks to extensive touring and recording throughout the 1960s and 70s.
Band Director, b. 1928
St. Augustine High School in New Orleans lost its legendary "Marching 100" founder and long-time band master, Edwin Hampton, who passed away on July 21, 2009, at the age of 81.
Beloved WWOZ Volunteer, b. 1938
One of the cornerstones of WWOZ's volunteer army, Mike Casey passed away in December. He was 71. Our love and support go out to Mike's family, which includes his nephew, ‘OZ show host Andrew Grafe.
Clarinetist, b. 1938
The clarinetist was with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for nearly twenty years and played with Jerry Butler, the Impressions, Dr. John, Wallace Davenport, Johnny Adams, and Chuck Carbo. He passed on December 7, 2009, at the age of 71.
Vocalist, b. 1954
One of New Orleans' most beloved singers passed away on September 10 at the age of 55. A native of New Orleans, her vocal prowess regularly livened up performances by Eddie Bo, Bob French, the Palm Court Jazz All-Stars, and many more. She also acted in theatrical productions of "One Mo' Time," "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," and "Staggerlee".
Guitarist, b. 1915
On August 13, 2009, one of the most influential men in the history of the electric guitar passed away at age 94: Les Paul. His musical career began in the 1930s, and despite a semi-retirement in the late 1960s, he continued recording and performing well into his 90s, winning two Grammys in 2006.
Vocalist, b. 1958
The "King of Pop" passed away on June 25, 2009, at age 50. One of the most popular and controversial artists of all time, Michael Jackson rose to fame as a child star in the late 1960s, with his career peaking in the 70s and 80s with albums like Thriller and Off the Wall.
Pianist Eddie Bo, one of New Orleans' greatest performers, passed on March 18, 2009, at the age of 79. He was considered the last of the "junker"-style pianists, and his 1969 hit "Hook and Sling" remains a New Orleans funk classic.
Guitarist, vocalist, b. 1936
Snooks Eaglin passed on February 18, 2009, after prolonged illness at age 73. His unique fingerpicking style, combined with a vast repertoire that got him the nickname "The Human Jukebox," made him one of the most influential bluesmen of the 20th century.
Saxophonist, b. 1927
Native New Orleanian saxman Sam Butera passed on June 3, 2009, at the age of 81. Breaking into show business with Louis Prima in Las Vegas, he started his own group The Witnesses and went on to perform and record with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Saxophonist, b. 1933
The former Ray Charles sideman passed at the age of 75 on January 20, 2009, after battling pancreatic cancer. After the 1950s, Fathead began working with King Curtis and Eddie Harris, and he later recorded with legends Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, and Dr. John.
Harmonica, Vocalist, b. 1951
Norton Buffalo was regarded as one of the most versatile and talented harmonica players of all time. His recordings are a must in every harmonica player's collection. He was also a strong and soulful vocalist (Steve Miller introduced him each night as his "Partner in Harmony") and was as well regarded as a songwriter, engineer and producer. In 1987 Norton teamed up with legendary Bay Area slide guitar player Roy Rogers to form the powerful performing duet, Norton Buffalo & Roy Rogers.
Vocalist, Songwriter, b. 1936
Peter, Paul and Mary were one of the biggest groups of the Sixties, and Mary Travers was the soprano in the middle. After the group's breakup Travers continued with the social advocacy she had become involved in with the group. She passed on September 16th, 2009.
Guitarist, Vocalist, b. 1930
John Dudley Cephas was born in the Foggy Bottom section of Washington, D.C. His Aunt Lillian Douglas and her friend, Haley Dorsey, introduced him to the guitar and to blues, teaching him a few chords and instilling a love for home made music. John’s grandfather took him to Virginia, exposing him to country house parties, where he worked with his cousin David Talliaferro, who taught him the nuances of finger picking in the regional Piedmont style. John passed away on March 4, 2009.
Sam "Bluzman" Taylor
Vocalist, Guitarist, Songwriter, b. 1934
His first major professional gig was as Maxine Brown's bandleader at the Apollo Theater, and his first #1 R&B hit was "Funny". He recorded for various labels and wrote hundreds of songs, some becoming gold records like "Do It 'Till You're Satisfied", performed by the BT Express. Taylor's handiwork can be heard rendered by Freddie King, Son Seals, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jay and the Americans, and many others. Taylor also was bandleader/guitarist for the likes of Big Joe Turner, The Isley Brothers, Tracy Nelson, Otis Redding, and Sam & Dave.
Taylor was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Arizona Blues Hall Of Fame in 1997. Just before his death, he released his autobiography, "Caught In The Jaws Of The Blues".
See our In Memoriam page for 2008
Read More: Today in Louisiana Music History
Want to know which Louisiana musician was born on this day? Check out WWOZ show host Tom Morgan's daily feature at louisianabirthdays.com.
If we missed someone, please post info and a picture in the comments section below.