Thursday, September 13, 2007

Willie Tee and Bobby Byrd

The litany of New Orleans greats who have passed on shows no signs of abating. The latest is Willie Tee (Turbinton) who has died of cancer aged just 63. Willie's music crossed a number of boundaries and included soul, funk, jazz and swamp pop - even beach music - but above all his music just reeked of New Orleans. I love his 60s hits Teasin' Me, Walking up a One Way Street and Thank You John, which were early examples of N'Awlins funk, but his later work with the Wild Magnolias and in the jazz field kept him in the public eye. I remember seeing Willie at the Jazz Cafe a few years ago and he was coolness personified, as he brought the keyboard to life. It's only a few months ago that I saw him at the Ponderosa Stomp (pictured), when he seemed full of life and on top form. His death comes shortly after that of his saxophonist brother Earl. Earl was a true jazzman and regularly played in the Jazz Tent at Jazzfest, but I also remember seeing him back up New Orleans legends such as Ernie K-Doe and Jessie Hill on a Mississippi riverboat in the early 90s.

They are dropping one by one down in New Orleans these days - those who have not been displaced by Katrina (Willie Tee was forced to move to Baton Rouge). It's only a few weeks since we said goodbye to Oliver 'La la' Morgan, another New Orleans R and B great. We miss them all.

Another soul great has died, I read in today's Indy . That's Bobby Byrd, right hand man of James Brown throughout his illustrious career. Byrd co-wrote many of Brown's biggest hits including Sex Machine and Licking Stick, but he also recorded some excellent soul sides in the 60s and early 70s, along with Baby Baby Baby, a fantastic duet with Anna King. Yet another huge loss to soul music.


At 3:49 pm , Anonymous Howler said...

In the first paragraph of the Independent obituary, the writer seems to be
confusing Byrd woth the "Rockin' Robin"/"Over and Over" singer Bobby
Day, whose real name was also Robert Byrd.


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