Singer, songwriter, pianist, and producer Allen Toussaint (1938-2015) was a fixture on the New Orleans music scene for more than 50 years. He had STYLE, both in and out of the studio. Hard to miss around town clad in a suit and sandals, driving a Rolls with PIANO tags, Toussaint’s string of hits started in the late ‘50s and include hits on the pop, R&B, country, and dance charts.
Even an early ‘60s stint in the military couldn’t slow him down – in 1964, his Army band, dubbed the Stokes, went into the studio and recorded an instrumental he called “Whipped Cream.” Herb Alpert covered it a year later, turning the track into a huge hit single and the theme for the long-running TV show The Dating Game.
But that wasn’t Toussaint’s only song to be covered by another artist: “Fortune Teller” was cut by many bands, including The Who and The Stones; Glen Campbell had a hit with the autobiographical “Southern Nights,” and Ernie K-Doe’s 1961 hit, “A Certain Girl,” was also recorded by the Yardbirds and Warren Zevon (just to name three).
By the end of the ’60s, Allen Toussaint was New Orleans’s premier producer. Ten years later, he was becoming equally well known for his own records.
After Hurricane Katrina rocked New Orleans, Allen Toussaint relocated to New York City. His next project, the Katrina themed “The River in Reverse,” was recorded with Elvis Costello and earned Toussaint a Grammy nomination.
In 2013, Allen Toussaint was awarded the National Medal of Arts in a ceremony at the White House.