Professor Longhair - Professor Longhair King of New Orleans...

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Professor Longhair King of New Orleans Kevin Albano MUS 12 Blues
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Born Henry Roeland Byrd in Bogalusa, Louisiana 1918, and raised in New Orleans, “Fess” as he was known, started performing at an early age, tap dancing on Bourbon Street for tips. In addition to piano, he learned to play guitar and drums in the early 1930s and was in and out of numerous bands, but he didn’t catch his break until the late 40’s. By that point he had led many different musical groups, including the Mid Drifs, Professor Longhair and the Four Hairs, and Professor Longhair and His Shuffling Hungarians. Finally, he made his recording debut with the latter group in 1949 on the Star Talent label, but a year later he had a different group at a different label. The Blues Jumpers recorded for Mercury, which released Bald Head, the only Professor Longhair ever to make the R&B charts, peaking at number five. Even though a New Orleans legend, Fess was forced to support himself by playing cards and working as a janitor in the mid- 1960s. Luckily, he was rediscovered in the early 1970s and performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1971. He at played the New Orleans festival every year thereafter until his death. Known for his unique mix of blues, jazz, calypso, ragtime, and zydeco, "Fess" (as he was known), is said to have defined and captured the essence of New Orleans in his music.
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