Allen Toussaint, New Orleans Royalty, Dies at 77

Legendary New Orleans composer and pianist Allen Toussaint has died from an apparent heart attack at his hotel following a performance in Madrid, Spain early Tuesday morning. Toussaint’s daughter, Alison Toussaint-LeBeaux confirmed her fathers death to the The New York Times Tuesday.

Mr. Toussaint was scheduled to perform in London and Belgium following his Madrid performance.

Mr. Toussaint frequently collaborated with his fellow New Orleans musicians as well as rock luminaries such as Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello. Costello recently said of him, “There was no one on the planet who cared more about New Orleans than this man.”

Born in 1938 in the working class section of New Orleans known as Gert Town, Mr. Toussaint taught himself to play the piano and released his first album in 1958.

His songs were recorded by many, including the Rolling Stones and The Who, both taking turns at his song “Fortune Teller.” The song was posted on the Rolling Stones Twitter feed Tuesday morning. Phish has often covered his “On Your Way Down.”

Other musicians have also posted messages celebrating the life of Mr. Toussaint:

Forced to relocate to New York due to Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Toussaint was a frequent perfomer at Joe’s Pub. The move rejuvenated his career and he eventually returned to New Orleans, performing often at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Mr. Toussaint gained fame outside of his home town with his 1975 solo album Southern Nights. Glen Campbell also had a hit with the title song.  He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame and received the National Medal of the Arts from President Obama.

Mr. Toussaint, humbly stated on his website, “I’m not accustomed to talking about myself, I talk in the studio with musicians. Or through my songs.”