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Rest In Peace Big Chief Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indian Band

Posted by Billyjam, January 21, 2015 11:26am | Post a Comment

Yesterday, Jan 20th 2015, the music world lost Bo Dollis of the Wild Magnolias who was one of greatest ambassadors of New Orleans style Mardi Gras Indian funk. He was 71 years of age. No exact cause of death has been announced but Dollis had been in poor health for past several years. Born Theodore Emile "Bo" Dollis in 1944, Dollis was the longtime Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians who as a young teen growing up in New Orleans joined the Golden Arrows Mardi Gras Indians, then after joining the Wild Magnolias as flag boy. But by the time he was 20 he had already risen in the ranks to that of Big Chief status. As such he was part of a whole new generation of Mardi Gras Indians to promote the culture in a positive light, focusing on the costumes (see above image of Dollis in full costume) more and and to turn away from violence, something strongly associated with and prevalent in previous decades. As such Dollis was pioneering in bringing the culture and sound of the Mardi Gras Indian culture to national awareness and acclaim. He was a trailblazer of the culture by recording the first commercial album of Mardi Gras Indian music  in 1970 best known by the single "Handa Wanda" that was a traditionally-rooted new Indian song written by Dollis (audio only video below). He was also a pioneer at that same year when along with Monk Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indians and and a young Quint Davis he performed at the original New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Fast forward four years and he would recording the acclaimed landmark album The Wild Magnolias that married funk sounds with Indian chants and hence  made it more palatable to more American ears. That album also featured Snooks Eaglin, Willie Tee, Uganda Roberts, Earl Turbinton, and Bo's wife Laurita Dollis. Four years ago he was honored with the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship.



Bo Dollis And The Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indian Band "Handa Wanda"(1970)

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Bo Dollis (1), New Orleans (56), Rip (31), Mardi Gras (24)