Tuesday, December 29, 2015

King of Zydeco: Clifton Chenier and "Johnny Can't Dance"

Today's random tune is by Clifton Chenier from Opelousas, Louisiana, a native Louisiana-French speaker who was known as "King of Zydeco" and "King of the South." A legendary performer of zydeco on accordion, he won a Grammy award in 1983 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously in 2014. He is also inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. He started his musical career in the 1950s, and began to reach a national audience in 1976 with an appearance on Austin City Limits. His popularity peaked in the 1980s. He was also an innovator, and is credited with redesigning the washboard used in zydeco music into the "vest frottoir," that hangs from the shoulders - he also introduced using bottle caps to give it its distinctive sound. Chenier died of diabetes-related kidney disease in December, 1987. This song, "Johnny Can't Dance," can be found on numerous compilation albums such as The Best of Clifton Chenier (2003).