Music: Professor Longhair
Professor Longhair (Henry Roeland Byrd) Dececember 19, 1918 – Jan 30, 1980
Pianist, composer, singer, all-around smart dresser, Professor Longhair, is one of the most important musical figures in New Orleans’ musical legacy. Born Henry Roeland Byrd in Bogalusa, Louisiana on December 19, 1918, he was the embodiment of New Orleans rhythm and blues at his peak in the late ’70s. Fess influenced countless musicians, such as Fats Domino, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Henry Butler, Huey “Piano” Smith, Marcia Ball, Champion Jack Dupree, the Meters, and the Neville Brothers. His unique style fused diverse elements including blues, barrelhouse boogie-woogie, rock, and gospel, which he combined with calypso, rhumba, and second-line street parade rhythms. His hybrid “rhumba-boogie” piano style, with a heavy, percussive left hand, forever changed the sound of rhythm and blues piano.