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ISSUE 79: Louisiana Music Timeline

There's A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On: A Timeline of Louisiana Music

by Allan Lowe and Alex Rawls

Louisiana Map

Courtesy Special Collections, LSU Libraries, Louisiana State University

1764 

The first Acadians arrive in Louisiana. 

1817 

New Orleans City Council passes legislation that allows slaves to meet and dance on Sundays in Congo Square.

1829 

Birth of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the pianist and composer who went on to incorporate Creole music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and folk songs into his compositions. 

1877 

Birth of Buddy Bolden, the cornetist and forerunner of New Orleans jazz.

1889 

Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter) born on the Jeter Plantation near Mooringsport.

1889

Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

1890

Birth of jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton.

1893

Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee is born in Bayou Marron.

 

1893

Photo by Philip Gould

1897

Memphis Minnie born in Algiers; seven years later, she moves with her family to Mississippi.

1901

Birth of Paul Barbarin, composer of "Bourbon Street Parade" and "The Second Line."

1901

Courtesy Hogan Jazz Archives, Tulane University

1915

Trombonist Tom Brown and his band are the first jazz ensemble to play north of New Orleans, starting the spread of jazz.

1918

Leadbelly convicted of homicide and sentenced to a maximum of thirty years of hard labor.

1919

Louis Armstrong joins Edouard "Kid" Ory's band, a collaboration that paves the way for the recording of Armstrong and his Hot Five with Ory in Chicago in 1925.

1922

Excello Records producer J. D. Miller is born in Iota. He goes on to record Slim Harpo, Lightnin' Slim, Lazy Lester, and more. Louis Armstrong leaves New Orleans for Chicago. 

1925

New Orleans vocal trio The Boswell Sisters record for the first time. They will inspire The Andrews Sisters and other female jazz vocal groups. Cajun accordion great Lawrence Walker first records.

1928

Joseph Falcon and his wife Cléoma record the first Cajun French record, "Allons à Lafayette."

1928

"Practice on a Sunday Afternoon" (1977) by George Rodrigue

1930

New Orleans jazz guitarist Danny Barker marries singer/dancer Louise Dupont, better known as Blue Lu.

1930

Photo by Syndey Byrd

1935

Jerry Lee Lewis, Richard Berry (writer of "Louie Louie"), and Larry Williams ("Bony Maronie," "Bad Boy," and "Slow Down") are born in Ferriday, Extension, and New Orleans, respectively. 

1939

Frank Painia opens the Dew Drop Inn on LaSalle Street in New Orleans. Birth of pianist James Booker.

1940

Four years before becoming governor of Louisiana, Jimmie Davis records "You Are My Sunshine," which eventually becomes one of the state's official songs.

1940

Courtesy Louisiana Music Hall of Fame

1941

Clarinetist Sidney Bechet records "The Sheik of Araby" and "Blues of Bechet," playing all six instruments himself by overdubbing each part.

1942

Jazz enthusiast Bill Russell restarts the career of trumpeter Bunk Johnson, who claimed—dubiously—to be one of the originators of jazz. The New Orleans Jazz Revival is officially underway. 

1942

Courtesy Hogan Jazz Archives, Tulane University

1943

Tony Joe White born in Oak Grove.

1947

Cajun fiddler Harry Choates's version of "Jole Blon" enters the country music charts.

1948

Roy Brown cuts "Good Rockin' Tonight," one of the contenders for the title of first rock & roll album, at Cosimo Matassa's J&M Recording Studio. Blues and jazz guitarist Lonnie Johnson releases "Tomorrow Night." Louisiana Hayride, the Grand Ole Opry's rowdier radio cousin, debuts in Shreveport on KWKH. Hank Williams makes his first appearance on the show this year.

1948

Williams, Courtesy Louisiana Music Hall of Fame

1949

Louis Armstrong returns to New Orleans as King of Zulu during the Krewe of Zulu's Mardi Gras parade. 

1949

Courtesy Louis Armstrong House Museum

1950

Release of "The Fat Man" by Fats Domino, another contender for first rock & roll song. As important as Domino's performance is the arrangement by Dave Bartholomew, who will harness New Orleans street-music rhythms into consistent, enduring support for many artists.

1950

Photo by Syndey Byrd

1952

Lloyd Price releases "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," arranged by Dave Bartholomew. Little Walter tops Billboard's r&b chart with "Juke." Hank Williams makes his final appearance on Louisiana Hayride

1953

Guitar Slim records the harbinger of rock noise to come, "The Things That I Used to Do."

1954

Elvis Presley debuts on Louisiana Hayride. The words "Elvis has left the building" are first spoken by Hayride's Hoss Logan after one of his performances. Zydeco pioneer Boozoo Chavis records "Paper in My Shoe" and James "Sugar Boy" Crawford introduces Mardi Gras Indian lore to popular music with "Jock-a-Mo."

1954

Chavis, Courtesy Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

1955

Fats Domino plays Alan Freed's sold-out "Rock 'n' Roll Ball" in Harlem. Birth of avant-garde percussionist Hamid Drake in Monroe. Shreveport country singer Faron Young's "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young" marks the first of Young's five No. 1 hits. Abbeville's Bobby Charles has a hit on Chess Records with his song "Later Alligator." Bill Haley and His Comets enjoy a bigger hit with it the same year as "See You Later, Alligator."

1955

Young, Courtesy Louisiana Music Hall of Fame

1956

Fats Domino appears on The Steve Allen Show, and Shirley & Lee release "Let the Good Times Roll," another Dave Bartholomew production.

1957

Dale Hawkins records "Susie Q" in the studio of Shreveport's KWKH, and Jimmy C. Newman (the C stands for "Cajun") from Mamou charts on Billboard's pop, r&b, and country charts with "A Fallen Star." Jerry Lee Lewis releases "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On."

1957

Hawkins, Courtesy Ponderosa Stomp Foundation

1958

Shreveport's Will "Dub" Jones joins The Coasters, with whom he goes on to sing "Why's everybody always picking on me" in their song "Charlie Brown." Jerry Lee Lewis releases "Great Balls of Fire" and embarks on his ill-fated British tour. His marriage to his thirteen-year-old cousin Myra Gale Brown causes a scandal.

1959

Lake Charles's Phil Phillips's "Sea of Love" goes to No. 2 on Billboard's pop chart. Lloyd Price's "Personality" tops the r&b chart. 

1960

Joe Jones releases "You Talk Too Much," which cracked the r&b and pop Top 10. The same year, Jessie Hill adds Mardi Gras Indians to his r&b with "Ooh Poo Pah Doo."

1961

A good year for Louisiana r&b with the release of Chris Kenner's "I Like It Like That," Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-in-Law," and Joe Barry's swamp-pop classic, "I'm a Fool to Care." New Orleans traditional jazz pianist and Preservation Hall Jazz Band mainstay Sweet Emma Barrett records her first album, New Orleans: The Living Legends. Harold Battiste, Jr., launches AFO Records, the country's first black-owned-and-operated record label, with the Barbara George hit "I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)."

1961

Ernie K-Doe, Photo by Syndey Byrd

1962

Shreveport's Claude King has a hit with "Wolverton Mountain."

1962

Courtesy Louisiana Music Hall of Fame

1963

Percy Mayfield from Minden, in northwest Louisiana, releases "River's Invitation," and Dale & Grace take the swamp-pop classic "I'm Leaving It Up to You" to the top of the pop charts and appear on American Bandstand

1964

The Dixie Cups release "Chapel of Love," arranged and produced by the "Creole Beethoven," Wardell Quezergue. Al Hirt's "Java," adapted from an Allen Toussaint composition, goes to No. 5 on the Billboard pop chart. Also, The Beatles play City Park Stadium in New Orleans. Clarence "Frogman" Henry opens. 

1964

The Dixie Cups, Courtesy Barbara Hawkins

1965

Lee Dorsey releases "Ride Your Pony," which makes it into the Top 10 of Billboard's r&b chart.

1966

Robert Parker's "Barefootin'" makes it to No. 7 on Billboard's pop chart on the strength of another Wardell Quezergue arrangement.

1967

Aaron Neville's "Tell It Like It Is" goes to No. 1 on the Billboard r&b chart. Birth of Tim McGraw in Delhi.

1968

Baton Rouge's John Fred and His Playboy Band have a hit with "Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)."

1970

The first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is held in Congo Square; Duke Ellington and Mahalia Jackson are the headliners. Also that year, Big Chief Bo Dollis and The Wild Magnolias cut the first Mardi Gras Indian funk single, "Handa Wanda." The Doors play at The Warehouse in New Orleans; after Jim Morrison melts down onstage, it turns out to be their final live show.

1970

Jackson, Courtesy Library of Congress

1971

Jean Knight has a Top 10 r&b and pop hit with another Quezergue arrangement, "Mr. Big Stuff," and "Drowning in the Sea of Love" by Joe Simon of Simmesport gets to No. 3 on the Billboard r&b chart. 

1971

Knight, Courtesy Louisiana Music Hall of Fame

1972

Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson dies at age sixty.

1973

Dr. John's single "Right Place, Wrong Time," spends nine weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

1974

The Wild Magnolias release their self-titled debut album, adding psychedelic funk courtesy of band leader Willie Tee and his brother, Earl Turbinton, Jr., to the Mardi Gras Indian gang's chants. 

1975

Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" goes to No. 1, backed by The Meters and produced by Allen Toussaint.

1976

Big Chief Jolly of The Wild Tchoupitoulas cuts the self-titled Mardi Gras Indian funk classic album, backed by The Meters.

1976

Photo by Syndey Byrd

1977

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band forms, and "You Are My Sunshine" is named the state song. 

1979

The Meters's drummer Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste plays as a member of Keith Richards's New Barbarians at a court-ordered benefit concert in Oshawa, Ontario.

1983

Philip Frazier forms the Rebirth Brass Band. Wynton Marsalis, at twenty-two, becomes the first artist to win Grammys in both jazz and classical music categories in the same year.

1985

Rockin' Sidney wins a Grammy for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording for "My Toot Toot."

1991

Birth of country star Hunter Hayes.

1991

Photo by Brad Camembert/Shutterstock.com

1992

Branford Marsalis becomes the band leader on The Tonight Show. Cajun fiddle great Dewey Balfa dies at age sixty-five.

1995

Brooks & Dunn (featuring Shreveport's Kix Brooks) have their Waitin' on Sundown album certified double platinum. 

1998

Master P's single "Make 'Em Say Uhh!" is certified gold. Gospel singer Raymond Myles is shot and killed on the edge of the French Quarter.

1999

Britney Spears's "...Baby One More Time" single goes platinum. Zydeco accordionist Beau Jocque dies of a heart attack at age forty-five, and Juvenile's 400 Degreez goes triple platinum. 

2003

Murder of rapper Soulja Slim.

2003

Photo by Thadeus Polo Terrell

2004

Juvenile's "Slow Motion" tops Billboard's Hot 100 chart, and Raful Neal, head of the Baton Rouge blues family, dies at age sixty-eight.

2005

Barry Cowsill drowns in the Mississippi River after Hurricane Katrina.

2006

The New Orleans Superdome reopens for the Saints-Falcons football game with performances by U2 and Green Day, Rebirth Brass Band, New Birth Brass Band, and Trombone Shorty.

2007

Jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins plays at the White House.

2007

Photo by Syndey Byrd

2010

President Barack Obama nominates jazz musician Irvin Mayfield to the National Council on the Arts.

2011

New Orleans City Council formally names and dedicates Congo Square. Since 1893, its official name had been Beauregard Square. 

2011

Photo by A. Jordan

 

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