Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bluesobit: Coco Robicheaux

Coco Robicheaux, the "hoodoo bluesman", has suffered a fatal heart attack.

Robicheaux was born into a military family, but came to settle in Louisiana as a teenager; the army nearly pulled him back in during Vietnam but an irregular heartbeat spared him action. His life would stretch any attempt at a quick obituary - moving across the country; an impostor committing violent crimes in his name forcing him to live in semi-hiding; odd-jobs and cash-in-hand gigs before a big break: Mighty Sam McClain covered one of his songs, leading to a record deal and an album, Spiritland, in 1994. (Coco had recorded some tracks back in the 1960s, but never anything had amounted to much.) More albums were to follow, and he would be a regular on the New Orleans live and festival scene. He even got a cameo in Treme.

Robicheaux suggested his talent came from spirits from somewhere beyond:

"It's like an all-star soul revue rather than a gong show. If I sing a phrase with a certain feeling, I know it's not because this cat's in me, but he's standing right next to me. I don't want to hear voices. When I was in my 20s I would do all that stuff. Now I have a strong idea of my own identity."
Coco was taken ill at the Apple Barrel, the inn where he would often hold impromptu performances. He was 64.