The Doctor on . . .
Professor Longhair, pianist: “I think every one of us--whether it was Huey Smith, Allen Toussaint, James Booker or me--every piano player had his own version of playing Professor Longhair. That’s how much he meant to all the cats. We all owe a deeper debt to his style of playing than to anyone else. The calypso, the mambo, the rhumba, the New Orleans fonk parade rhythms and everything else, he opened that door more than anybody.”
Lee Allen, saxophonist; played on Fats Domino’s records and numerous other R&B; hits of the ‘50s: “If Lee had money for every hit record he played a sax solo on, he’d be a multibillionaire. And I really believe that a lot of those records would not have been hits had it not been for Lee Allen’s solos.”
Earl King, guitarist: “Earl, even though he started off as a Guitar Slim clone, became a writer of songs that had a tremendous impact of a lot of things that happened. I think a lot of the Motown records that came out had a lot of Earl King-isms in ‘em; James Brown records that came out had Earl King-isms in ‘em. As a writer, as a guitar player, as a soul unique and off-the-wall, a lot of things came out of what he contributed, and what he still contributes.”
Huey (Piano) Smith: “To me, Huey was the essential down-home songwriter, piano player and a guy that could put a vocal group together to make a special kind of show. I think Huey (Piano) Smith and the Clowns might have opened the door for the Coasters, the Cadillacs and a lot of groups at that time, as far as being funny. I look at him akin to Chuck Berry, but this thing was always straight-up, down-home New Orleans fonk.”
Danny Barker, banjo player and guitarist; died this month: “Here’s a man that schooled almost all of the young brass band players and kids coming up in a major way. He gave all he had to the thing. Him always being there for the young cats and old-timers alike made him real, real, special.”
Allen Toussaint, composer/producer of “Mother-in-Law,” “Workin’ in a Coal Mine” and dozens of other hits: “Allen is the one cat that kept the recording scene alive in New Orleans as a writer, as a producer and as a musician. He started the New Orleans production thing and opened a lot of doors for the Lee Dorseys, the Irma Thomases, the Benny Spellmans, the Ernie K-Does, the Jessie Hills. I don’t think a lot of those records would have made it had it not been for Allen’s kindness and his expertise.”