- Photo Scott Saltzman
- The late Eddie Bo entertains Jazz Fest audiences.
Luderin Darbone, 1913-2008
Cajun fiddler and singer Luderin Darbone cofounded the Cajun string band the Hackberry Ramblers in 1933. It was one of the first bands to use electronic amplification in Cajun dance halls, courtesy of a Model-T Ford used as a generator. The Ramblers blended Western swing, country songs and traditional Cajun sounds. The group played every Jazz Fest from 1988 until 2005. In 2008, Darbone returned to the Festival for two solo slots.
Snooks Eaglin, 1936-2009
Blind guitarist Snooks Eaglin, called the "Human Jukebox," was known for his deft fingerpicking — plucking strings with his thumbnail — and his huge repertoire of songs. Eaglin taught himself to play guitar at age 5, formed his first band, the Flamingos, at age 13 with a teenaged Allen Toussaint and Ernie K-Doe, was a member of James "Sugar Boy" Crawford's Cane Cutters, and is featured on many hit songs.
Antoinette K-Doe, 1945-2009
"Empress of the Universe" Antoinette K-Doe became famous as a New Orleans personality through her 1996 marriage to eccentric R&B singer Ernie K-Doe. Largely due to her support, Ernie revived his career in the late 1990s. After his death in 2001, Antoinette continued to run the Ernie K-Doe Mother-in-Law Lounge, and dedicated herself to preserving local cultural traditions. She died at the lounge in the early hours of Mardi Gras morning.
Eddie Bo, 1930-2009
Edwin "Eddie Bo" Bocage, a fantastically versatile pianist whose skills created the bridge between New Orleans R&B and funk, contributed as an artist, producer, talent scout and label owner to nearly every phase of New Orleans music since the 1950s. Bo scouted, arranged, produced and wrote for artists in the city including Irma Thomas, Tommy Ridgely, Robert Parker and Johnny Adams. He released more R&B singles than any other New Orleans artist except Fats Domino.
Earl Palmer, 1924-2008
Drummer Earl Palmer's signature rock-hard backbeat was an essential brick in the foundation of rock 'n' roll, providing a backbone for classic songs: Fats Domino's groundbreaking 1949 song "The Fat Man," Little Richard's blazing "Tutti Frutti," and Lloyd Price's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," among many others. Palmer grew up in the Tremé neighborhood and spent many years as a first-call session drummer, appearing on hundreds of early rock and R&B songs cut at Cosimo Matassa's legendary J&M Studio. In 1957, Palmer moved to Los Angeles, where he drummed for Motown, Phil Spector and thousands of others. He was inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
Nathan Woods, 1976-2008
Underground rapper Nathan "Bionik Brown" Woods made a name for himself with the local independent Media Darling Records, which promoted socially conscious lyrics. Woods opened for progressive alternative rappers and hip-hop groups including De La Soul, Talib Kweli and the Roots. After Hurricane Katrina, he relocated with his wife to Denver where he recorded his last album, Platinum Thoughts, Aluminum Budget.
George Davis, 1938-2008
Gutarist, bassist and reed player George Davis worked steadily as a session man in New Orleans in the 1960s. He is featured on classics including Smokey Johnson's "It Ain't My Fault," the Hawketts' "Mardi Gras Mambo" and Willie Tee's "Teasin' You." In 1967, he co-wrote childhood friend Aaron Neville's hit "Tell It Like It Is." Davis worked alongside artists including Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Allen Toussaint, Earl King and Ernie K-Doe.