Allen Toussaint, the legendary New Orleans performer, producer, and song writer died after suffering a heart attack on Tuesday, November 10th while on a tour in Europe. The 77 year old musician collapsed backstage post a concert in Spain. Having performed frequently in his hometown over the past few weeks, Toussaint left with his family on Thursday for a tour that was to include stops in Belgium, London, and Madrid, confirms his Facebook page.
Starting in early 1960’s, he wrote hits for some of the biggest artists including Otis Redding and Lee Dorsey. Toussaint’s songs have been covered by everyone from Paul McCartney to The Rolling Stones. In 1988, his name was included to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not to mention he was nominated for a Grammy award, and in year 2013 he was honored with the National Medal of Arts-the highest honor given to an American artist.
Born in a small district of New Orleans in 1938, Toussaint taught himself how to play the piano. At the age of 13, he dropped out of high school in favor of music career and joined his first band. Soon he was hired as a session pianist by Dave Bartholomew-musical director for fats Domino.
Considered by many as a dean of New Orleans music, Allen Toussaint’s legacy is not only of extraordinary musical talent during the rise of R&B and funk genres, but also of impactful humanitarian work in the city. Those who knew him or just happened to meet him always talk about his elegance and humble, soft-spoken manner. He was a man who influenced the careers of various musician and performers.
Since his death, a movement has started to change the name of the Robert E. Lee Circle in New Orleans (named after the former Confederate general) to Toussaint Circle. This shows that his music and influence on the world and of course his kindness to one and all remain timeless.