Raised in a shotgun shack in the New Orleans neighborhood of Gert Town, Allen Toussaint got his big break when he sat in on piano for Huey Smith at an Earl King gig in in 1956. He was 17 years old at the time.
Writing songs under his own as well as a handful of pseudonyms, including twenty or so under his parents name, he had really made a name for himself by the time the mid 60's rolled around. Though his own versions caught the ear of a lot of people it was versions of his song done by other people. For instance Irma Thomas take of "Ruler Of My Heart" (which was also redone by Otis Redding as "Pain In My Heart"), Glen Campbell's "Southern Nights", Ernie K. Doe's "Mother In Law", Little Feat's "On Your Way Down" The Paul Butterfield's Blues Band's "Get Out of My Life, Woman", Devo's "Working In A Coalmine" and the Meters "Meter Strut" to name a handful, but hardly scratching the surface, were all born from Allen putting his fingers on 88 keys.
Toussaint died about 2am this morning while on tour in Madrid, Spain. He was 77.
With such a huge wealth of music and history behind him it was hard just to pick one song to post in his memory today. I decided to go with Benny Spellman's 1962' vocal take (with Allen on piano as well as musical director and producer) of "Fortune Teller" as it was my first introduction to him (well, via the Rolling Stones) and a song I sang to my kids when they were little.