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Texas Bluesman Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown Dies

Bluesman Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown died Saturday in his hometown of Orange, Texas at age 81. The musician, who hated to be pigeonholed into genres, had been battling lung cancer and heart disease and was in ill health for the past year, according to his booking agent Rick Cady. The singer and guitarist had been residing in New Orleans but returned to his hometown of Orange to stay with his brother and family to escape Hurricane Katrina. Brown’s home in Slidell, La., a bedroom community of New Orleans, was destroyed by the hurricane. Cady said Brown was completely devastated and heartbroken upon hearing of the destruction of his home.

Brown was born on April 18, 1924 in Vinton, La., but moved to Orange when he was only a few weeks old. He was immersed in music from the very start, as his father was a locally known country, Cajun and bluegrass musician. Brown began playing the fiddle when he was five, and by the age of 10, he had taught himself an odd way of guitar picking, a style that would later define him and his music. As he entered his teens, Brown began touring with swing bands as a drummer and was nicknamed “Gatemouth” for his deep voice. After a brief stint in the Army, Brown returned to Texas in 1945, where he became inspired by the work of blues guitarist T-Bone Walker.

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