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Music World Mourns the Loss of New Orleans R&B Legend Allen Toussaint

Allen Toussaint
Allen Toussaint

Allen Toussaint, a mainstay of the New Orleans R&B scene who also worked with Paul McCartney, Paul Simon and Eric Clapton, has died at the age of 77, according to several news reports. He died after performing at a concert in Madrid, Spain. The New York Times reported that his daughter Alison Toussaint-LeBeaux confirmed his death in an email.

Born in 1938 in a working class area of New Orleans, Toussaint, taught himself how to play the piano and released his first album in 1958. However, Toussaint began to receive international recognition when the Rolling Stone and the Who recorded “Fortune Teller,” one of his songs.

The song turned out to be a financial windfall for Toussaint.

“I was so glad when the Stones recorded my song – I knew they would know how to roll it all the way to the bank,” he told The Guardian.

In 1972, he cofounded Sea-Saint Studios, which attracted names such as Paul McCartney and Paul Simon, according to People magazine. Over the years he developed a reputation for being an arranger and producer. He produced hits such as “Lady Marmalade,” for Patti Labelle and also wrote “Southern Nights,” which was recorded by Glen Campbell and went to no. 1 on the pop, country and adult contempary charts.

In the ‘60s he also wrote and produced hits for several New Oreleans R&B acts such as Art and Aaron Neville, The Showmen and Lee Dorsey.

Toussaint was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Lousiana Music Hall of Fame. He received several other music honors over the years such as the American Music Association Lifetime Achievement award and six Grammy nominations. He also received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

In recent years, he also made several appearances as himself on the HBO show Treme.  Toussaint was displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and eventually resettled in New York, before returning to his home town.

Several artists took to Twitter to pay tribute to Toussaint.

The Rolling Stone said “RIP Allen Toussaint” and New Orleans jazz singer and actor Harry Connick Jr. tweeted, “Allen Toussaint has died… rest in peace, good friend… #legend.”

Drummer and producer Questlove also lauded Toussaint on Instagram.

“This dude wrote some of your favorite music & you just didn’t know it … Humble cat whose work spoke louder than he did,” he wrote.

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