Tom Ayres (died 05/30/2000; age 67)
Noted music producer (born in Sabine Parish, LA) was credited with boosting the careers of singer/songwriter Victoria Williams and rock superstar David Bowie, among others; read more.
Warren Ceasar (died 05/11/2000; age 48)
Trumpeter, flautist, singer, band leader, and Basile, LA native passed away unexpectedly just days after a performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; Ceasar's career included stints with Guitar Gable, Clifton Chenier (he contributed to Chenier's 1983 Grammy winning album "I'm Here"), Isaac Hayes, Luther Ingram, Al Green, Zachary Richard, and many others.
Ervin Charles (died 04/01/2000; age 68)
Under recognized Swamp/Texas blues guitarist born in Port Barre, LA; Charles moved to Beaumont, TX in 1952 and formed the Hollywood Bearcats with Long John Hunter; he later worked with Big Sambo and the Housewreckers, Sam Young and the Soul Lovers, and his own band The Nite Riders; Charles was featured on two tracks of the classic "Lone Star Shootout" sessions; his lone solo album was released on Dialtone Records shortly after his passing. See bio
Tony Charles (died 05/17/2000; age 55)
Respected drummer and Chataigner, Louisiana native was a long time member of late Zydeco star Rockin' Sydney's band; Charles also performed with Jackie Wilson (at age 18), Curtis Mayfield, The Zydeco Brothers, and the Boogie Kings.
Mark "Cadillac" Cook (died 07/13/2000)
Harmonica player with popular Baton Rouge blues band The Delta Rockets passed away from injuries suffered in a June 8th motorcycle accident.
Roland "Cookie" Cook (died 09/10/2000; age 64)
Bass player worked with many New Orleans R&B greats including Fats Domino, Ernie K-Doe, Allen Toussaint (Cook recorded an early Toussaint penned tune titled "Long Lost Love"), Shirley & Lee, Dave Bartholomew, and others.
Doug Curtis (died 09/20/2000; age 59)
New Orleans born musician (trombone and bass) played with many Dixieland greats; the California resident was a former president of the Monterey Bay Hot Jazz Society and a member of the Albacore Stompers for 25 years.
Jimmie Davis (died 11/05/2000; age 101)
Country music legend served as Governor of Louisiana from 1944 to 1948 and 1960 to 1964; he wrote hundreds of songs, most notably the American classic, "You Are My Sunshine"; Davis was a member of the Louisiana Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
John DuBois (died 01/08/2000; age 74)
Cajun balladeer known as the "Maurice Chevalier of the Bayous".
Raphael Dupre, Sr. (died 04/17/2000; age 66)
Native of Plaisance, LA; fiddler, accordion player, and band teacher introduced Cajun music, dancing, and storytelling to thousands of St. Tammany Parish school children; Dupre also played saxophone for Allen Fontenot & The Country Cajuns for several years.
George Finola (died 12/01/2000; age 55)
Jazz scholar and musician moved to New Orleans from Chicago in 1965; he worked with many jazz legends over the years, and led his own band, The Chosen Few, at French Quarter venues and night spots for many years.
Vernell Fournier (died 11/04/2000; age 74)
Influential jazz drummer, band leader, music instructor, and New Orleans native worked with King Kolax, Dookie Chase, Norm Simmons, Ahmad Jamal Trio, Clifford Jordan, and many others.
Havenus C. "Bubba" Guillory (died 12/12/2000; age 71)
Welsh, LA native led his own band in the 1950's and 60's, and was a member of the Cajun Music Hall of Fame.
Harmonica Fats (died 01/03/2000)
Blues man born Harvey Blackston in McDade, Louisiana in 1927; Blackston moved to L.A. in 1946 for work outside of music; he took up harp playing in earnest after an auto wreck in 1954; changed name to Harmonica Fats in 1961; toured and recorded with Bernie Pearl since 1986; appeared in the 1991 film, "The Doors"; see BluesNotes tribute; discography.
Lily Hood (died 03/24/2000)
French Quarter chanteuse and piano player known as "Miss Lily" entertained Tennessee Williams, Dutch Morial, and thousands of others during her 16 years of performances at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street; Lily, a native of Greece, moved to New Orleans in 1971.
Clint Houston (died 06/06/2000; age 53)
New Orleans-born jazz bassist and composer worked with Nina Simone, Roy Ayers, Stan Getz, Woody Shaw, Joanne Brackeen, and many others (more).
James Hutchison (died 04/02/2000; age 56)
New Orleans born saxophone player led The Orioles, who backed up Irma Thomas, Frankie Ford, and others in the 1950's; he later formed the groups Hutch, and The Sparks, who were inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in 1997.
Otis Jenkins (died 04/18/2000; age 56)
Popular New Orleans blues and R&B vocalist battled diabetes for many years.
Will "Dub" Jones (died 01/16/2000; age 71)
Bass vocalist from Shreveport, LA recorded with The Cadets and The Jacks before joining future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Coasters in 1958; he remained with The Coasters for ten years, and he was featured on many of their hits including "Yakety Yak", "Charlie Brown" (Jones delivered the classic line "Why's everybody always picking on me"), and "Along Came Jones".
Leon Kelner (died 03/08/2000; age 77)
Pianist and New York native performed at the Roosevelt Hotel (now The Fairmont) from 1942 to 1971, working in the Fountain Lounge and later in the Blue Room as pianist and band leader; Kelner and his orchestra performed at the Fairmont's New Year's Eve millennium bash in December of 1999.
Saunders King (died 08/31/2000; age 91)
West Coast blues guitarist, singer, band leader and songwriter (from Staple, LA) first recorded in 1942, and this session included his classic "S.K. Blues" (also a hit for Joe Turner in 1945); he hit the charts with "Empty Bedroom Blues" and "Stay Gone Blues" in 1949; King came out of retirment in 1979 to appear on Carlos Santana's (his son-in-law) debut solo album "Oneness"; read more.
Phamous Lambert (died 09/16/2000; age 82)
Noted jazz piano player and vocalist (from Thibodaux, LA) spent 20 years in Chicago working with many giants of jazz (Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Joe Williams); after his return to New Orleans, he was a longtime member of the Dukes of Dixieland, and worked with many other local artists; he can be heard on albums by The Dukes, Sammy Remington and the New Orleans All-Star Stompers; he was also featured at the 1995 Piano Night At Tipitina's; he was the brother of late bassist Lloyd Lambert.
Layton Martens (died 03/18/2000; age 57)
Martens was the founder, leader and trombonist of the Spirit of New Orleans Brass Band; a cellist with the Spirit of New Orleans String Quartet; an assistant conductor and principal cellist with the New Orleans Civic Symphony Orchestra, and principal cellist of the New Leviathan Oriental Fox-Trot Orchestra.
Terrence McKenzie (died 04/01/2000; age 27)
New Orleans native, aka DJ Lil' Daddy, was found murdered in Baton Rouge; McKenzie, a rap music producer, worked with U.G.K. (Underground Kingz) and other southern rap groups.
Richard Payne (died 05/17/2000; age 68)
Noted New Orleans R&B and jazz bassist was also a classical musician and music educator; he performed with dozens of musicans over the years, including Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Professor Longhair, Ellis Marsalis, and Allen Toussaint; in later years Payne was a regular at Preservation Hall.
Milton Pitre (died 01/04/2000; age 59)
Musician from Ville Platte, LA worked with many bands including The Swamp Gold Band, Country Diamonds, Southern Drifters, and Kyle Veillon & The Flatland Band.
Moise Robin (died 04/26/2000; age 89)
Noted Cajun accordion player, vocalist, and composer from Arnaudville, LA recorded with Leo Soileau in 1929.
Rodney St. Pierre, Jr. (died 07/26/2000; age 39)
Leader of local R&B group the Bayou Blues Band was killed in a jet-ski accident in Grand Cayman.
Jessie "Jay" Stutes (died 05/19/2000; age 66)
Steel guitar player and vocalist on the 1961 Cleveland Crochet & The Hillbilly Ramblers hit "Sugar Bee" (the first Cajun song to enter the Billboard Hot 100); Stutes later worked with Blackie Forestier and the Cajun Aces.
Ronald "Green Apples" Williams (died 06/22/2000; age 56)
Retired vocalist and native of New Orleans was a former member of local groups The Orbiters, Swiss Movement, and Louisiana Purchase.
(Robert) Bobby Wilson (died 10/03/2000; age 52)
Drummer and New Orleans native replaced Smokey Johnson in Fats Domino's band, and more recently worked with Eddie Bo. Wilson was awarded a Certificate of Achievement by Mayor Marc Morial.
John Richard Wright, Jr. (died 03/22/2000; age 52)
Wright, a native of New Orleans, was a former drummer with sax man James Rivers.
Other Notable Passings
King Ernest Baker (died 03/04/2000; age 60)
Blues and soul singer was born in Natchez, MS and raised in Vidalia, Louisiana; Baker attended Southern University in Baton Rouge before moving on to fame in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles; he was killed in an auto accident on his way home from a gig in L.A.; see King Ernest discography.
Peter Gennaro (died 09/28/2000; age 80)
New Orleans born choreographer and dancer won a Tony Award in 1977 for his work on "Annie"; other credits included Broadway's "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and the television variety program "The Perry Como Show"; read more.
Clarence Hollimon (died 04/23/2000; age 62)
Houston blues guitarist and session player was married to Lafayette, LA native Carol Fran; the couple were regulars on the blues circuit and festival scene, and released 3 albums together.
Dorn "Pappy" Kemp (died 07/13/2000; age 61)
Owner of Kemp's Bar & Lounge, an occasional music venue, and popular watering hole and stopping point for Mardi Gras Indian and Social Aid & Pleasure Club celebrations; Kemp was the brother of late saxophonist Fred Kemp.
Patti Samuels (died 11/20/2000; age 34)
Co-owner of local record label Basin Street Records was tragically killed in an auto accident.
William Oliver Swofford (died 02/12/2000; age 54)
Swofford, a singer who performed under the stage name Oliver, had hits with "Good Morning Starshine" and "Jean" in 1969; he passed away in Shreveport after suffering a heart attack; Swofford left the music business in the 1980's and worked in the construction and pharmaceutical industries.
Johnny Vincent (died 02/04/2000; age 74)
Late producer and Ace Records founder Johnny Vincent was born John Vincent Imbragulio in Hattiesburg, MS in 1926; as an A&R man for Specialty Records and owner of Ace Records, Vincent was the man behind many New Orleans classics including hits by Guitar Slim, Earl King, Jimmy Clanton, Huey "Piano" Smith and Frankie Ford.