Great Performances mourns the death of musician, songwriter and producer Allen Toussaint (January 14, 1938 – November 10, 2015), a native of New Orleans, LA, who defined New Orleans R&B. The 77-year-old musician played piano with the Allen Toussaint Trio and died while on his European tour, collapsing after a concert in Madrid, Spain, from a possible heart attack, according to The New York Times. Toussaint’s website tour schedule indicated the trio’s next U.S. date was to be November 29 at City Winery in New York City.
It was Great Performances‘ honor to present Toussaint’s artistry in Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk – A Celebration of New Orleans Blues (2011)— the British musician and actor’s personal journey into the blues and jazz that grew out of New Orleans. Toussaint led the band in the program, which included among others, Irma Thomas — The Soul Queen of New Orleans — the Welsh singer Tom Jones, and Hugh Laurie on piano.
Among Toussaint’s honors are the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the Grammy Trustee’s Awards; the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame; the La. Songwriter’s Hall of Fame; and many more. His influence on music spanned genres and countries. Those who have covered his song “Fortune Teller” in popular music include the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Hollies, and Robert Plant with Alison Krauss.
The biography on Toussaint’s official website ends, “Give him the heat and the humidity, the spice and the rice, the funky sound of a Second Line and the cool feel of a southern night. ‘I apologize,’ Toussaint sings, with the hint of a wink, ‘to anyone who can truly say that he has a found a better way.'”