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New Orleans Legend Allen Toussaint Dies at 77

Songwriter, producer and musician felled by heart attack while on tour in Europe

Allen Toussaint closing the 2010 Montreal International Jazz Festival
Allen Toussaint

Songwriter, producer, arranger and musician Allen Toussaint, one of the most influential artists in New Orleans music for more than 50 years, died last night, Nov. 9, in Madrid, Spain. Toussaint, whose family confirmed his death, suffered a heart attack in his Madrid hotel following a performance at that city’s Teatro Lara; although he was briefly revived, he died en route to Jimenez Diaz Foundation Hospital. He was 77.

Toussaint was best known for his compositions covered by other performers-many of which became major hits-including “Working in the Coal Mine” (Lee Dorsey), “Mother-in-Law” (Ernie K-Doe), “Lipstick Traces” (Benny Spellman), “Java” (Al Hirt), “It’s Raining” (Irma Thomas), “Ruler of My Heart” (also by Irma Thomas and, as “Pain in My Heart,” both the Rolling Stones and Otis Redding), “Southern Nights” (Glen Campbell), “Yes We Can Can” (both Lee Dorsey and the Pointer Sisters), “I Like It Like That” (both Chris Kenner and the Dave Clark Five) and “Fortune Teller”(both Benny Spellman and the Rolling Stones). Others who have covered his songs include Art and Aaron Neville, Warren Zevon, the Who, Ringo Starr, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Alex Chilton, Three Dog Night, the Hollies, Bonnie Raitt, the Doors, B.J. Thomas, Van Dyke Parks, Bo Diddley, Widespread Panic, Little Feat, the Band, Herb Alpert, the Judds, Phish, Maria Muldaur, Spirit, the Yardbirds, the Oak Ridge Boys, Devo, Trombone Shorty, Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, Paul Weller and the O’Jays, among many others. Saxophonist Lou Donaldson covered Toussaint’s “Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (From Now On).”

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