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Professor Longhair

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Henry Roeland “Roy” Byrd (December 19, 1918 – January 30, 1980), better known as Professor Longhair also known as “Fess”, was a New Orleans rhythm & blues singer and pianist. Professor Longhair is noteworthy for having been active in two distinct periods, both in the heyday of early rhythm and blues, and in the resurgence of interest in traditional jazz after the founding of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Professor Longhair was born on December 19, 1918 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. He made a living as a street hustler until he started to play piano seriously in his thirties. He taught himself how to play on a piano with missing keys so his style became distinct.
He began his career in New Orleans in 1948, earning a gig at the Caldonia Club, where the owner, Mike Tessitore, bestowed Longhair with his stage name (due to Byrd’s shaggy coiffure). Longhair first recorded in 1949, creating four songs (including the first version of his signature song, “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” complete with whistled intro) for the Dallas, Texas based Star Talent label. His band was called the Shuffling Hungarians, for reasons lost to time. Union problems curtailed their release, but Longhair’s next effort for Mercury Records the same year was a winner. Throughout the 1950s, he recorded for Atlantic Records, Federal Records and other, local, labels.

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  • lossless777

    Happy Birthday, Fess!

    19 Dec 2013 Reply
  • kell_salvador

    Can't stop listening to this genius of a man. Most infectious piano blues ever.

    2 Jul 2013 Reply
  • leeds_manc

    esunsalmista: N'awlins baby :)

    23 Jun 2013 Reply
  • uh_oh_jlm

    Style for days and days and days.

    23 Mar 2013 Reply
  • SimonePerrota

    Fantastic profile picture

    12 Feb 2013 Reply
  • josernoya

    King Longhair

    18 Mar 2012 Reply
  • esunsalmista

    Where was the world hiding this phenomenon?!

    23 Feb 2012 Reply
  • richardneal

    Fess & Earl Palmer together: unbeatable

    19 Feb 2012 Reply
  • Halfthatswhole

    "Forget every thing you've been told about Jesus, Buddha, Allah, there's only God, and his name is Professor Longhair" - Davis McAlary

    4 Sep 2011 Reply
  • joaofabiao

    "Ball the wall" should be in 1st place

    16 Jun 2011 Reply
  • branchong

    so so good.

    4 May 2011 Reply
  • Zer0_II

    That profile picture is awesome. The Professor is a relatively recent discovery for me. I picked up the album Rock 'N' Roll Gumbo not too long ago. The album opens up weak in my opinion. I had to warm up to the Professor's style, as I'm used to a more raw and dirty blues style, but I quickly discovered this is some top-notch piano blues. It doesn't take long before the Professor kindles the fire a bit on the album, and then pounds out a string of amazingly smooth and groovy numbers.

    23 Apr 2011 Reply
  • doctorka33

    Fess is great

    22 Dec 2010 Reply
  • doctorjmo

    i love nawlins!!

    14 Dec 2010 Reply
  • palijer

    how is he not more well known

    17 Aug 2010 Reply
  • fmera

    he looks like general platt, the "pants on the ground" guy in AI

    9 Feb 2010 Reply
  • Triebert91

    Genius.

    11 Jan 2010 Reply
  • pistol-b

    oobbah doobah

    23 Dec 2009 Reply
  • sweetdy

    professor longhair IS new orleans.

    21 Sep 2009 Reply
  • Saaaandy

    <3

    27 Apr 2009 Reply
  • All 35 shouts