Born James Carroll Booker, III, 17 December 1939, New Orleans, Louisiana
Pianist / organist / singer.
The rediscovery of "roots" music by college students during the '70s provided the opportunity for a comeback by 1974, with numerous engage- ments at local clubs like Tipitina's, The Maple Leaf, and Snug Harbor. As with Professor Longhair, Booker's performances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals took on the trappings of legendary "happenings" and he often spent his festival earnings to arrive in style, pulling up to the stage in a rented Rolls-Royce and attired in costumes befitting the "Piano Prince of New Orleans", complete with a cape. Such performances tended to be unpredictable: he might easily plant some Chopin into a blues tune or launch into a jeremiad on the CIA. He recorded only two studio albums during his lifetime, "Junco Partner" in 1976 and "Classified" in 1982. His deteriorating mental state and an inability to control his drug problem led to a fatal heart attack in 1983. He was only 43 years old. Despite his personal eccentricities, Booker had the respect of New Orleans' best musicians, and elements of his influence are still very much apparent in the playing of pianists like Henry Butler, Harry Connick, Jr. and, most of all, New Zealand's Will Sargisson (born 1980).
More info: http://www.cascadeblues.org/History/JamesBooker.htm
In spite of his virtuosity (his left hand is phenomenal), none of his ten CD's is really satisfactory, IMO. Most of them contain at least a few (instrumental) gems, but I'm not a great fan of his vocal style.
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