James BOOKER

James Booker was a far out motherfucker.  He had his first hit at age 12 and died alone in the waiting room of New Orleans Charity Hospital at age 43.  He wore an eye patch over his left eye, and everyone it seems was told a different story of the damaged eye – was it pulled out by drug dealers or Ringo Starr?

They called him the Piano Prince, the Black Liberace, and even the Bayou Maharajah.  He played with everyone from Dr. John to Jerry Garcia, the aforementioned Ringo, and the Doobie Brothers).  Like so many great American artists, he found his most appreciative audience in Europe.  Indeed the best footage of Booker comes from Europe.  His addictions to heroin and alcohol may have prevented stardom, but he gained an infamy perhaps more meaningful.  Best known for his piano playing, his vocal stylings were also pure magic.  People that saw him perform on a good night were gifted the ultimate gift.  Booker played more notes per minute than anyone before or since.  He was not one for rehearsing.  The movie is full of interesting stories.  If necessary, he could focus most of his attention on a man in the audience to flirt with, and not miss a note of his complicated finger work.  In Europe, Booker kept large amounts of marijuana stuffed in his afro whig.  To help stay out of prison (he did some time at Angola), he gave lessons to Harry Connick Jr., whose father provided legal counsel in exchange.  If you are already a fan, check this movie out (trailer below!).  If you are unfamiliar with Booker's work, get to it.

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