Clifton Chenier

Embodying New Orleans' unique mix of Cajun, Creole, jazz and blues cultures, accordion player Clifton Chenier became a Grammy Award-winning star and the undisputed king of the Lousiana folk music zydeco. Wearing a crown on stage and flashing a smile of gleaming gold teeth, he mixed the modern R&B sounds of the 1950s with his rural, traditional roots to create a blasting, free-spirited boogie that won fans in Lightnin' Hopkins, Paul Simon, Rory Gallagher and John Mellencamp. He played at jazz and blues festivals across the US, released records for legendary label Chess and formed the successful group Red Hot Louisiana Band, but really came to wider attention when he won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Recording for the album I'm Here in 1983. Chenier played at the White House the following year, but was diagnosed with diabetes and died of kidney disease in 1987, aged 65. Posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame, his legacy still lives on in New Orleans as one of the key figures who honed the city's distinctive sound.

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