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Monday, January 21, 2013

Drop The Bomb - Snooks Eaglin

Snooks Eaglin, born Fird Eaglin, Jr. (January 21, 1936 – February 18, 2009), was a New Orleans-based guitarist and singer. He was also referred to as Blind Snooks Eaglin in his early years. His vocal style is reminiscent of Ray Charles; in the 1950s, when he was in his late teens, he would sometimes bill himself as "Little Ray Charles". Generally regarded as a legend of New Orleans music, he played a wide range of music within the same concert, album, or even song: blues, rock and roll, jazz, country, and Latin. In his early years, he also played some straight-ahead acoustic blues. His ability to play a wide range of songs and make them his own earned him the nickname "the human jukebox." Eaglin claimed in interviews that his musical repertoire included some 2,500 songs. At live shows, he did not usually prepare set lists, and was unpredictable, even to his bandmates. He played songs that came to his head, and he also took requests from the audience. He was universally loved and respected by fellow musicians and fans alike. Eaglin lost his sight not long after his first birthday after being stricken with glaucoma, and spent several years in the hospital with other ailments. Around the age of five Eaglin received a guitar from his father; he taught himself to play by listening to and playing along with the radio. A mischievous youngster, he was given the nickname "Snooks" after a radio character named Baby Snooks. In 1947, at the age of 11, Eaglin won a talent contest organized by the radio station WNOE by playing "Twelfth Street Rag". Three years later, he dropped out of the school for the blind to become a professional musician. In 1952, Eaglin joined the Flamingoes, a local seven-piece band started by Allen Toussaint. The Flamingoes did not have a bass player, and according to Eaglin, he played both the guitar and the bass parts at the same time on his guitar. He stayed with The Flamingoes for several years, until their dissolution in the mid-1950s. As a solo artist, his recording and touring were inconsistent, and for a man with a career of about 50 years, his discography is rather slim. His first recording was in 1953, playing guitar at a recording session for James "Sugar Boy" Crawford. The first recordings under his own name came when Harry Oster, a folklorist from Louisiana State University, found him playing in the streets of New Orleans. Oster made recordings of Eaglin between 1958 and 1960 during seven sessions which later became records on various labels including Folkways, Folklyric, and Prestige/Bluesville. These recordings were in folk blues style, Eaglin with an acoustic guitar without a band. From 1960 to 1963, Eaglin recorded for Imperial. He played electric guitar on Imperial sessions with backup from a band including James Booker on piano and Smokey Johnson on drums. He recorded a total of 26 tracks which can be heard on The Complete Imperial Recordings. Much of the material on Imperial was written by Dave Bartholomew. Unlike the Harry Oster recordings, these works on Imperial are New Orleans R&B in the style for which he is widely known today. After Imperial, in 1964, he recorded alone at his home with a guitar for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, released as I Blueskvarter 1964: Vol.3. For the remainder of the 1960s, he apparently made no recordings. His next work came on the Swedish label Sonet in 1971. Another album Down Yonder was released in 1978 featuring Ellis Marsalis on piano. Apart from his own work, he joined recording sessions with Professor Longhair in 1971 and 72 (Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge). He also played some funky guitar on The Wild Magnolias' first album recorded in 1973. He joined Nauman and Hammond Scott of Black Top Records in the 1980s which led to a recording contract with the label. Eaglin's Black Top years were the most consistent years of his recording career. Between 1987 and 1999, he recorded four studio albums and a live album, and appeared as a guest on a number of recordings by other Black Top artists, including Henry Butler, Earl King, and Tommy Ridgley. Eaglin died of a heart attack at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans on February 18, 2009. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and had been hospitalized for treatment. He was scheduled to make a comeback appearance at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in Spring of 2009. In honor of his contributions to New Orleans music, he was depicted in an artist's rendering on the cover of the "Jazz Fest Bible" edition of Offbeat Magazine for the New Orleans Jazz Fest in 2009. For many years, Eaglin lived in St. Rose in the suburbs of New Orleans with his wife Dorothea. Though he did not play many live shows, he regularly performed at Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans, and also at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

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