Personalities | Professor Longhair | Fifties | Jazz & Blues
(Piano, vocals, 1918–80)
Henry Roeland Byrd was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana and formed his first combo, Professor Longhair and the Four Hairs, shortly after the Second World War. His Atlantic sessions in 1949 and 1953 produced his signature songs ‘Mardi Gras in New Orleans’ and ‘Tipitina’. As an ebullient and racy vocalist, and a pianist who employed a characteristic rhumba-boogie, Longhair is the link between older New Orleans pianists and the new arrivals of the 1950s. He enjoyed a comeback after appearing at the 1971 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and returned to touring and recording until his death.
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