Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bobby Charles 1938-2010

Bobby Charles (Robert Charles Guidry), the great Louisiana songwriter, died today at age 71. Although a cause of death hasn’t yet been announced, Bobby had been living with diabetes and kidney cancer in recent years.

Bobby was probably best known for writing several of the greatest early rock ‘n’ roll songs like “Walking to New Orleans” for Fats Domino and “See You Later, Alligator,” a hit for Bill Haley and the Comets. Many other artists recorded many other Bobby Charles songs over the past half-century or so.

Bobby recorded several of his own albums that blended Cajun, country, blues, folk and rock ‘n’ roll music. One of my all-time favourite songs was his gorgeous “Tennessee Blues,” which he recorded on his classic Bobby Charles album in 1972. There are a bunch of other great versions by such folk as Geoff Muldaur, Jim Rooney, Doug Sahm, Tracy Nelson and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. Another favourite was his insightful “Promises, Promises (The Truth will Set You Free),” from his 1995 album, Wish You Were Here Right Now, and revived after Hurricane Katrina by Dr. John.

--Mike Regenstreif

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