RUGGED & FUNKY
Professor Longhair, "Fess" was born Henry Roeland Byrd on December 19th, 1918 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. A KKK uprising in 1920, pushed his mother to move young Henry to New Orleans.
This pistol-wielding card shark, came up on the streets of New Orleans, banging on thrown out pianos to arguably become the musical force who invented funk and rock & roll.
His songs “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” and “Big Chief” are the undisputed anthems of Carnival, while the Rock n’ Roll DNA of Elvis, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino can all be traced back to Fess’ musical inventions.
Even though Fess' music was blasting the airwaves across the world, continued racial injustice and greedy music execs, kept Fess struggling. Out of desperation he put the music down to support his family. After years of working odd jobs, Fess came back to headline the 1971 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and went on the tour and cut his final album, Crawfish Fiesta. But years of hard work and lack of access to proper healthcare, Professor Longhair passed away unexpectedly on January 30th, 1980, the day Crawfish Fiesta was released.