2005/09/12

Passage: 'Gatemouth' Brown, 81

Singer and guitarist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, who built a 50-year career playing blues, country, jazz and Cajun music, has died. He had fled to his hometown of Orange, Texas, to escape Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed his New Orleans home. His career first took off in the 1940s with blues hits "Okie Dokie Stomp" and "Ain't That Dandy," but Brown didn't want to be labeled a bluesman. He played a half-dozen instruments and culled his style from jazz, country, Texas blues, and the zydeco and Cajun music of his native Louisiana. By the end of his career, Brown had more than 30 recordings, including some with Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton. He won a Grammy in 1982. His versatility came partly from a childhood spent in the musical mishmash of southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas. Brown named his father, a railroad worker who sang and played fiddle in a Cajun band, as his greatest musical influence. "If I can make my guitar sound like his fiddle, then I know I've got it right," Brown said. -- Associated Press

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