Archive for Zydeco

Walkin’ To New Orleans: Clifton Chenier

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 18, 2009 by 30daysout


We’re taking a trip from Texas to New Orleans and plan to get there in time for Mardi Gras.  Along the way, we’re revisiting some of the interesting characters we’ve met in past years.  Today we go deep into the dark heart of Cajun country.

They called Clifton Chenier “King of the Bayou.”  Even after his death in 1987, Chenier remains an undisputed giant of Louisiana music – he singlehandedly attracted millions of listeners to the rhythmic gumbo of blues and Cajun music called Zydeco.  Hell, he may not have invented the music but he came pretty close to setting an unreachable standard for anyone who follows in his footsteps.

We saw him a lot toward the end of his life.  Chenier loved to play close to his home in Lafayette, Louisiana, because as he approached his 60s Chenier battled diabetes.  I remember calling his home in 1984 for an interview and Chenier was under the supervision of a nurse.  One of his legs had to be amputated below the knee due to poor circulation, but he was grateful the doctors didn’t take his hands.

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