About an hour ago, legendary New Orleans guitarist Fird "Snooks" Eaglin passed away. He was 73 years old.
Born in New Orleans in January of 1936, Eaglin lost his sight before he was two years old. The blind musician taught himself to play at the age of five, building a rhythm and blues repertoire that has been estimated at 2500+ songs. At 13, he joined his first band, the Flamingoes, which also featured a teenaged Allen Toussaint and Ernie K-Doe. Eaglin was also a member of Sugar Boy Crawford's band the Cane Cutters and appeared on their classic hit "Jock-A-Mo." Eaglin recorded several albums for the Imperial label in the early '60s under the direction of Dave Bartholomew, and also appeared on the landmark Mardi Gras Indian album The Wild Magnolias in 1974.
For the past two decades, Eaglin and his trademark red Epiphone hollow-body guitar was a regular presence onstage at Mid-City Lanes Rock n'Bowl and on WWOZ 90.7 FM. Before Hurricane Katrina, a live performance by Eaglin on Billy Delle's Wednesday night "Records from the Crypt" show was the traditional closer for the station's fund drive. In October, WWOZ used the fund drive also as a blood drive for Eaglin, who was hospitalized with an unspecified illness.