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."
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:
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.