Friday, September 12, 2014

Cosimo Matassa - rock and roll pioneer

Rock and roll pioneer and New Orleans record studio owner Cosimo Matassa has died at the age of 88. So many brilliant R & B and rock and roll records were produced at his J & M studio between 1945 and the late sixties that it is impossible to overstate the importance of Cosimo's contribution to music. Dave Bartholomew made Fats Domino's first record, The Fat Man,there and followed it up with dozens of million sellers. Little Richard recorded Tutti Frutti there and Lloyd Price, Professor Longhair, Roy Brown, Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Smiley Lewis and Bobby Charles were among the early artists who made many of their best records in his first studio in North Rampart Street.  Jerry Lee Lewis made his first demo there.
After the studio's move to Governor Nicholls Street the sound of New Orleans R and B blossomed with the likes of Ernie K-Doe, Chris Kenner, Irma Thomas, Benny Spellman, Barbara George, Barbara Lynn, Lee Dorsey and Aaron Neville. A young Mac Rebennack and Allen Toussaint were among the great musicans who recorded and backed fellow artists. All this time Cosimo continued to run the family grocery business in the French Quarter. He was belatedly admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
John Broven said in his book Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans: 'The whole New Orleans R&B record scene was centred around the recording studios of Cosimo Matassa. Apart from isolated sessions in radio stations or on “field” locations, almost every R&B record made in New Orleans from the 1940s until the late 1960s was cut in his studios. Cosimo is mystified when asked why others did not try to establish another studio. “Beats the hell out of me, I don’t know,” he said. “It could be that New Orleans is just like a big small town.”
Here's the report of Cosimo's death on
Here's another report


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