Today marks the two-year anniversary of the the flooding of the Crescent City, New Orleans, brought by the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. I recently posted about Fats Domino, beloved piano legend and near victim of that great tragedy. A reader requested some Professor Longhair and I was more than happy to oblige.
Professor Longhair's sound was extremely influential, particularly during the late 1940's to mid 1950's but he didn't achieve the renown of contemporaries such as Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Remarkably, by 1970 'Fess was working at a record store living in virtual anonymity, and presumed by some to have died! That year, three New Orleans teenagers set out to find Professor Longhair to invite him to play at their first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. They didn't find him in time for the first festival but did find him in 1971 working at One Stop Records, on Rampart St. in New Orleans. By then, he hadn't touched a keyboard in years. At the second New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Professor Longhair's return to playing was literally a show stopper. The entire audience was rapt; food vendors stopped peddling during his performance; musicians performing on other stages even stopped playing in order to catch this historic event!
Read more about Professor Longhair:
From the album "New Orleans Piano"::
From "Live In London"::
and extracted from the video (top), 'Fess playing 'Tipitina'...