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."
Photographer Ted Rozumalski was in New Orleans in 1964 to cover the Beatles for the Houston Chronicle. Ted was a talented photographer-he had already been recognized as press photographer of the year for his work in 1963, an honor he would again receive for his 1964 photos. His photographs appeared in National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, Life, and Sports Illustrated. Eighteen of the 147 photos he took in New Orleans that day are included in Beatles Day in New Orleans, some of which have never been previously published.
Had a great crowd for my talk at the Jefferson Parish Regional Library in Metairie last week. No photos were taken, but here's something better, Myra with Frogman Henry.
I was interviewed on WWL TV in New Orleans on Monday. I was lucky to get Eric Paulsen, who was a good friend of Fats Domino, doing the interview. He liked the book a lot and gave it a great review. Here is the link to the interview:
The Beatles were not taken seriously by the adult world in 1964. Their "music" was noise, they were a fad, and nobody would know who they were in a year (1965). This opened the door for four teenagers to be appointed as special correspondents to cover the Beatles in New Orleans by newspapers in Baton Rouge & Jackson Mississippi, including the brother and sister team of Florence and Stan Hughes, shown in this photo. In Beatles Day in New Orleans all four "teen reporters" recount how they finagled their way into the press conference and concert, what it was like to meet the Fab Four, and the chaos, bedlam, and hysteria of Beatlemania.
Clarence "Frogman" Henry, an opening act for the Beatles 1964 American Tour, has lived in the same home in the Algiers section of New Orleans since 1961. Also occupying his home are lots and lots of frogs—hundreds of stuffed frogs and other forms of the amphibious croakers, covering his grand piano and every shelf and nook of his house—gifts from fans and fellow performers.
I asked Frogman if he ever turned down a frog.
"Never!" he emphatically replied.
My hunt to find a frog that would be unique to his collection resulted in the croaker he holds in this photo.
On September 2, 1964, New Orleans rhythm and blues artist Clarence "Frogman" Henry joined the Beatles tour as an opening act, in replacement of the Righteous Brothers, who quit the tour after one too many nights of "WE WANT THE BEATLES!"
Frogman came from a musical family and some of his earliest memories were the sounds of his father sitting in bed at night, playing the guitar, and singing to his mother lying beside him.