Published Mar 25, 2009Eddie Bo, one of the founding fathers of funk, has died of a heart-attack at age 79 in New Orleans. Bo, born Edwin Bocage, was a pianist whose career spanned more than 50 years, but is best remembered for recordings from the late '60s and early '70s.
Like all New Orleans pianists, Bo followed in the footsteps of the legendary Roeland "Professor Longhair" Byrd. Longhair's rolling, rhumba boogie style on the keys exemplified New Orleans' polyrhythmic stew, and Bo was among his immediate disciples, along with Fats Domino.
Bo's first records came out in the mid-'50s, each one a little gem of rock'n'roll. His rhythmic sensibility evolved further and Bo was making unusual and distinctive R&B records by the mid-'60s. Though he was prolific behind the scenes in New Orleans recording studios, working with Irma Thomas and Meters keyboardist Art Neville, he never achieved national success as a performer or writer, as a result of business difficulties with a series of small labels.
He is most renowned for "Hook And Sling" and "Check Your Bucket." These two songs from 1969/'70 were staples of early hip-hop DJs for their righteous breaks, which provided a strong foundation for uncomplicated early MCing styles. These songs also became well known in the UK, where he has revered as a cult figure.
Bo continued performing at New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festivals, and was slated to do so again next month. In recent years, he operated the Check Your Bucket café in New Orleans. Reportedly, the café was flooded after Hurricane Katrina and not reopened.
Fortunately, his legacy had caught up to him just before he died. Last year, the career-spanning compilation In The Pocket With Eddie Bo was issued by Vampisoul with full participation of the artist; this collection unearthed many rarities, of which even Bo himself did not own copies. It serves as a fitting testament to his status in the Crescent City's musical heritage.