Allen Toussaint, musician, producer, songwriter, Died at 77

  Music, Writers

Allen Toussaint was born on January 14, 1938, and died on November 10, 2015.

He was an American musician, songwriter/composer, record producer, and influential figure in New Orleans R&B.

Many of Allen songs became familiar through versions by other musicians, including “Working in the Coal Mine”, “Ride Your Pony”, “Fortune Teller”, “Play Something Sweet”, “Southern Nights”, “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky”, “I’ll Take a Melody”, “Get Out of My Life, Woman” and “Mother-in-Law”.

Allen grew up in a shotgun house in the New Orleans neighbourhood of Gert Town, where his mother, Naomi Neville (whose name he later adopted pseudonymously for some of his works), welcomed and fed all manner of musicians as they practiced and recorded with her son.

After a lucky break at age 17 in which he stood in for Huey Smith at a performance with Earl King’s band in Prichard, Alabama, Allen was introduced to a group of local musicians who performed regularly at a night club on LaSalle street Uptown; they were known as the Dew Drop Set.

Allen initially recorded for RCA Victor as Al Tousan and recorded an album of instrumentals, including the song “Java”, which became a #1 hit for Al Hirt (also on RCA) in 1964.

A significant early influence on Allen was the second-line piano style of Professor Longhair.

In his early years he worked mainly for Joe Banashak’s Minit Records and Instant Records, but after Minit was sold to its distributor, he teamed up with Marshall Sehorn, starting their own record label variously known as Tou-Sea, Sansu, Deesu or Kansu.

In 1973 Allen and Sehorn created the Sea-Saint recording studio in Gentilly.

Allen passed away at age 77 in November 2015.