Bobby Charles 1939-2010

Bobby Charles (Robert Charles Guidry) died this week, he’d been sick with cancer for years. An excellent bio/obit from today’s New Orleans Times-Picayune can be found here. He’s best known for writing tunes for Billy Haley (See You Later Alligator), Fats Domino (What A Party, Walkin’ To New Orleans), Clarence “Frogman” Henry (I Don’t Know Why I Love You), and Joe Cocker (The Jealous Kind) as well as cutting an excellent LP for Bearsville backed by members of The Band in the 1970’s (find it here). He also made some excellent sides for Chess in the 50’s and Imperial in the 60’s. On the premise of buying a few of the Imperial singles that I needed I visited him way out in the south Louisiana bayou in 1999, but when I got there he had no records, although he was quite friendly and I’m glad I went. Bob Dylan recounts a visit to Charles’ home in his book Chronicles Vol. 1. Here’s a few of my favorite tunes by Bobby Charles– No Use Knockin’, On Bended Knee (in session), Take It Easy, Greasy, Grow Too Old, Put Your Arms Around Me, I Ain’t Gonna Do It No More, Alligator Stomp, I’d Like To Know. In his own way he defined the south Louisiana rock’n’roll sound as much as anyone. He didn’t play an instrument, and he hated to perform live (he was cut out of the movie The Last Waltz, although he performed at the show, I assume to make room for Neil Diamond and more close ups of Robbie Robertson. He also canceled a 2007 Jazz Fest performance at the last minute), but he created some of the greatest music you’ll ever hear. Rest in peace Bobby Charles.

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