Legendary New Orleans pianist, singer, songwriter and producer Eddie Bo (born Edwin Joseph Bocage) died of a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 79 years of age. One of the last great New Orleans piano professors, he was described by New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival producer Quint Davis as a "kind of a bridge between Professor Longhair and Allen Toussaint."
Known for an eclectic style that drew from jazz, funk, RnB, and rock 'n roll, Eddie Bo's 1962 hit "Check Mr. Popeye" inspired a dance craze at the time. Other notable hits by the incredibly prolific artist, who over the years released singles on a number of different record labels such as Ace, Ric, Apollo, Chess, and Bo Sound (his own imprint) included "Check Your Bucket" and "Hook and Sling," which was a Billboard Top 20 RnB hit in 1969.
The artist grew up in Algiers and the 9th Ward of New Orleans and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School followed by a stint in the US Army. Upon his return to New Orleans, he studied arranging and composing at the Grunewald School of Music, and soon after began his music career.
In addition to his own catalog and appearing (in recent decades) on albums with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and George Porter Jr., Eddie Bo's music has been covered by many others, most notably Etta James, who had a hit in 1959 doing a cover of his song "Dearest Darling," and Little Richard, who adapted Bo's song "I'm Wise" to make it the song "Slippin' and Slidin."
2007's Saints, Let's Go Marching On In (Bo-Sound) was his final release. Below is a wonderful performance in a post Katrina New Orleans by the soulful artist at Louisiana Music Factory just two years ago. RIP Mister Bo.