In Memoriam: 2009

Published on: January 6th, 2010

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.

Antoinette K-Doe

Antoinette K-Doe

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.

Hart McNee

Hart McNee

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. 


Koko Taylor

Koko taylor

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. 


Edwin Hampton

Edwin Hampton

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.  



Mike Casey

Mike Casey

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.  



Ralph Johnson

Ralph Johnson

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.



Juanita Brooks

Juanita Brooks

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".


Les Paul

Less Paul

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.

Michael Jackson

Michale Jackson

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.  


Eddie Bo

Eddie Bo
Pianist, vocalist, b. 1930


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.  


Snooks Eaglin

Snooks Eaglin

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.  


Sam Butera

Sam Butera

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. 


David "Fathead" Newman 

David Fathead

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.


Norton Buffalo

Norton Buffalo

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.

Mary Travers

Mary Travers

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.


John Cephas

John Cephas

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

Sam 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

If we missed someone, please post info and a picture in the comments section below.

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Nappy Brown died last year and his "Something gonna jump out of the bushes" CD (recorded on Blacktop Records) is one of my favorites.

I came to New Orleans in 1958 and quickly became a great fan of Nappy Brown, saw him live @ a club of Dryades street (Oretha Castle Haley" on St Andrew behind the funeral home owned by the Haydels.

The wailing blues guitar on "You been a long time coming Baby, but you finally made it Home" is wath attracted me to his music.

But did you know that he also did a version of "The nite time is the right time"; that old Ray Charles Classic. I sure would like to put my hands on a copy of those oldies.

I lost track of him after the sixties, tanx for bringing him back.

Sr. Gasolina of "Rudy's Caribbean Funk Band"

Ernest B. Skipper

Musician (Percussions & Horn), Soundman, Dancer; watch out James Brown, Mardi Gras Indian,The Original ShotGun Joe Recording & Vocalist; Watch out Otis Redding/Wilson Picket and a real FOOL (Laugh),His latest joke was "I want to be King this Mardi Gras and I need your help; King of Rex Okay!"; a true born Comedian if you ever seen one, I Know he made every gig with me the (Rudy's Caribbean Funk band and made those Caribbean boys proud when doing his versions of "Hot Hot Hot" and "Who let the Dogs out Woof Woof" !,) since 1998 and was on the cover of 3 of my CD's: 1- Diverse Cultures in 99, 2- My Name is New Orleans compilation with Arturo Pfister & Skipper's doing his original "ShotGun Joe" in 2006 and 3- "Rudy Original" in 2009.
We got along real well, I am going to miss him.

Sr. Gasolina

Note: I have a nice Pix of Skipper singing to his Mother at the last Gig we did together @ Harra's casino in late 2009 (tanx to his old friend Blodie) but dont know how to upload it.

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