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allen toussaint

Allen Toussaint

b. Al Tousan, 14th January 1938, Gert Town District, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.

d. 10th November 2015, Madrid, Spain.

New Orleans native, Allen Toussaint is a hugely respected composer, producer and artist in his own right.

He was born in a shotgun house in the Gert Town neighbourhood of New Orleans.

This referred to a style of residence no wider than about 12 feet and rectangular in shape, largely constructed in the Southern U.S. States, and harking back in design to the days of the American Civil War.

At home, his mother fed and looked after all of the musicians who came to visit a young Allen, whilst they practised and recorded music with her son.

Allen began playing the piano when he was seven years of age.

As a teenager, he played in a band called the Flamingoes with bluesman Snooks Eaglin.

When he was 17 years old, Allen stood in for Huey Smith for an Earl King gig in Alabama, a gig which hooked him up with several local musicians, who performed in a LaSalle Street nightclub.

The group of musicians were known as the Dew Drop Set.

The producer/songwriter Dave Bartholomew, hired Al to play piano parts for a Fats Domino recording session after which he made regular use of Allen, for various sessions for Fats and Smiley Lewis.

Al was the arranger on saxman Lee Allen's biggest hit, 'Walkin' with Mr. Lee'.

Wild Sound Of New OrleansWhirlaway

the wild sound of new orleans - 1958 / whirlaway - 1958

Signing to the RCA imprint, Al recorded an album of instrumentals, called 'The Wild Sound Of New Orleans', under the name of Al Tousan in 1958.

A song called 'Java' became a hit for the artist Al Hirt several years later.

He released a single entitled 'Whirlaway' b/w 'Happy Times', also in 1958, for RCA, along with four further sides for the Seville label between 1960 - 1962.

These were 'Chico', 'Back Home In Indiana', 'A Blue Mood' and 'Twenty Years Later'.

Heavenly BabyMoo Moo

heavenly baby - 1960 / moo moo - 1961

Additionally, in 1960, he recorded one side for the Minit imprint, under the group name of Allen and Allen, entitled 'Heavenly Baby' b/w 'Tiddle Winks'.

In 1963, Al was drafted, and had to place his career on hold for a couple of years, although he did play with the band the Stokes within the army, on base, returning to public life two years later.

Al developed his songwriting skills penning hits for several New Orleans based artists, including Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, Art and Aaron Neville, The Showmen, and Lee Dorsey.

He published some material at the time under the name of Naomi Neville (his mother's maiden name), and included various songs such as 'Ruler Of My Heart' by Irma Thomas.

Many of Al's melodies were covered by Rock artists, who took to his style of songwriting.

These included The Rolling Stones, The Nashville Teens, The Who, The Hollies, ex- Searchers founder member Tony Jackson and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss during the following decades.

'Fortune Teller' was a fine example of an Allen Toussaint original, covered by many Rock groups.

In 1964 'A Certain Girl' (an Ernie K-Doe original) was the first single release by The Yardbirds.

During the Sixties, Allen was part of several groups including The Young Ones (with Billy and Al Fayard), Allen and Allen (Allen Toussaint and Allen Orange), The Stokes (in the military, with Billy and Al Fayard), The Rubaiyats (with Willie Harper and the Meters), and was part of the duo Willie and Allen (Willie Harper and Allen Toussaint) between 1965 and 1967.

By now Allen had teamed up with Marshall Sehorn forming several labels including Tou-Sea, Sansu Enterprises, Deesu or Kansu, however, by 1973 the pair had created the Sea-Saint Recording Studio, which was based in New Orleans within the Gentilly district.

Sansu became the choice of imprint, recording various artists including Betty Harris, Earl King, Chris Kenner, and Lou Johnson.

The duo began working with Lee Dorsey, who recorded many Allen Toussaint originals including 'Ride Your Pony', 'Get Out of My Life Woman', 'Working in a Coalmine'," and 'Everything I Do Gon Be Funky (From Now On)'.Sansu hired the Meters, utilising the band for background chores.

The Meters went on to record material in their own right by 1969 (mostly produced by Toussaint).

ToussaintLife, Love & Faith

toussaint - 1971 / life, love and faith - 1972

In between the years 1967 and 1987, Allen had recorded for the labels Sansu, Bell, Tiffany, Scepter, Reprise, Warner Brothers, Crystal Fire and Cayenne.

At the outset of the 1970's Allen's sound developed into a funkier sound, finding his songwriting stylings suiting the likes of The Meters, Dr John ('Right Place, Wrong Time'), and the Wild Tchoupitoulas.

Emancipating his artistic output from the New Orleans' area sound, Allen worked with artists as diverse as Robert Palmer, Willy DeVille, Sandy Denny, Elkie Brooks, Solomon Burke, Frankie Miller and Mylon LeFevre.

Southern NightsMotion

southern nights - 1975 / motion - 1978

In 1971, he collaborated with the group The Band, and, in 1976, his song 'What Do You Want A Girl To Do?' was covered by Boz Scaggs on his 'Silk Degrees' album.

The same year he worked with John Mayall, and also released his own material throughout the decade, notably the albums 'Toussaint', 'From a Whisper to a Scream', 'Life, Love and Faith', 'Southern Nights' and 'Motion' in 1978.

In 1975 he worked with the group Labelle, producing their 'Nightbirds' album, which featured the number one Hit, 'Lady Marmalade'.

That year he also collaborated with Paul McCartney and Wings on their album 'Venus and Mars'.

In 1977, Glen Campbell covered 'Southern Nights', reaching the charts across several genre's.

Other Toussaint songs of note include 'Yes We Can Can" by the Pointer Sisters, 'Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley' by Robert Palmer, and 'Freedom for the Stallion' by the Hues Corporation.

ConnectedThe Bight Missippi

connected - 1996 / the bright missippi - 2009

In the new millennium, he has recored alongside several artists including Elvis Costello, Joe Cocker and Bonnie Raitt amongst others.

Unafraid to cross musical barriers, Allen's musical diversity has been featured throughout, not only the blues/funk stylings of New Orleans, but steers into Rock, Country and Rap music to his credit.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Allen, sadly passed away in November 2015, whilst on tour in Madrid, Spain.

Allen Toussaint

Real Player


Originally released under the name of AI Tousan:

Wild Sound Of New Orleans (RCA Records 1958)


Toussaint (Tiffany Records 1971)

Life, Love And Faith (Reprise Records 1972)

Southern Nights (Reprise Records 1975)

Motion (Warners Brothers Records 1978)

The Allen Toussaint Collection (1991)

The Wild Sound of New Orleans: The Complete 'Tousan' Sessions (1994)

Connected (Nyno Records 1996)

A New Orleans Christmas (Nyno Records 1997)

A Taste Of New Orleans (Nyno Records 1999)

Finger Poppin' & Stompin' Feet (Nyno Records 2002)

The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings (Warner Brothers Records 2005)

I Believe To My Soul (Captivating Music Records 2005)

with Elvis Costello:

The River in Reverse (Verve Forecast Records 2006)


The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch Records 2009)

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