MADRID, Spain (CelebrityAccess) — Allen Toussaint, the legendary pianist, singer, songwriter, and producer, a fixture of the New Orleans music scene for decades, died on Nov. 9th while on tour in Madrid. He was 77.
According to the New York Times, Toussaint's daughter, Alison Toussaint-LeBeaux, confirmed that he had died from an apparent heart attack. Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that Mr. Toussaint had collapsed at the hotel following a performance.
A native of New Orleans, Toussaint taught himself to play the piano and started working professionally as a teenager. In 1958, at the age of 20, Toussaint released his first album "The Wild Sound of New Orleans" under the name Tousan.
Toussaint would go on to embody the music of New Orleans, with an upbeat, rakish style that hearkened both to the city's musical traditions, while incorporating more modern and external influences. What would come to be known as the Toussaint sound eschewed the riffing of the traditional New Orleans ensemble to allow instrumentalists more musical freedom in pieces.
In addition to his work as a musician, Toussaint was also a prolific songwriter, penning songs such as the Al Hirt hit "Java" and "Fortune Teller" which was later recorded by The Rolling Stones. The list of major artists who have covered Toussaint's music ranges from Trombone Shorty, who Toussaint's "On Your Way Down" in 2010 to New Wave icons Devo who recorded "Working in the Coalmine" in 1980.
In 1973, Toussaint partnered with record producer Marshall Sehorn to co-found Sea-Saint Studios, a state of the art recording space that would see the likes of Paul Simon and Patti LaBelle, and Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, and Maria Muldaur record there.
After weathering Hurricane Katrina, Toussaint moved to New York, where he said he found his career to be "rebooted" before he returned to New Orleans for his final years.
He maintained an active touring schedule until the end, with performances in the U.S. and Europe in recent weeks, with scheduled performances lined up for Belgium and Britain. – Staff Writers