Louisiana musician Buckwheat Zydeco died early this morning at the age of 68, according to his longtime manager Ted Fox. Zydeco, aka Stanley Dural Jr., had been suffering from lung cancer and unable to perform for most of 2016. Recently his Carencro home had been damaged in the August floods, according to Fox.
"Buck made everything and everyone he touched better and happier," Fox wrote on Dural's Facebook page. "RIP my dear friend, my brother."
The Lafayette native and accordionist recorded dozens of albums in his good-time style and was an indefatigable figure on the tour circuit, as well as a fixture at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He performed at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton and appeared on many late-night talk shows. His performance of "Jambalaya" was a highlight of the 1996 Summer Olympics closing ceremonies.
In his book The Kingdom of Zydeco, former Gambit editor Michael Tisserand wrote that Dural had formed his band in 1978 after his mentor Clifton Chenier ("The King of Zydeco") became ill and passed the torch to Dural. Early in his career, Dural toured with a pet raccoon, which became part of his legend.
Tisserand wrote that claims that Dural would not perform if his band was billed as "Cajun" were true. He quotes Dural:
Why do you say this area is Cajun country? You have black, you have white, you have some Indians, Vietnamese, and we're all here in Louisiana. We all make Louisiana work. ... I'm not passing through here. I live here. And I won't accept it.
In 2015, Durel's social media accounts twitted then-Gov. Bobby Jindal for using Buckwheat Zydeco music at a campaign rally for Jindal's brief run for president. "Using our music is not cool at all #BobbyJindal," the musician tweeted. "@SenSanders using our 'Make A Change' to make his announcement is tres bien!"