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PROFESSOR LONGHAIR

"The Bach of Rock"
Photo by Michel P. Smith, copyright The Historic New Orleans Collection

Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd, a/k/a Professor Longhair, best known for his Mardi Gras anthem, "Go to the Mardi Gras," learned how to play piano on old, broken down pianos thrown out with the trash. His idiosyncratic, of-the-wall piano playing can best be heard on such classics as "Red Beans," "Big Chief," "Mess Around," and "How Long Has That Train Been Gone." In 1975, when long-time Longhair admirer Paul McCartney was in New Orleans to record his album "Venus & Mars," Paul struck up a friendship with the Professor, although "Fess" reportedly didn't know who the Beatles were, and referred to McCartney as "McCarthy."

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