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Allen Toussaint, , (born January 14, 1938) is an Americanmarker musician, composer and record producer, one of the most influential figures in New Orleansmarker R&B.

Many of Toussaint's songs have become familiar through numerous cover version, including "Working in the Coalmine", "Ride Your Pony", "Fortune Teller", "Brickyard Blues", "Get Out Of My Life Woman", "Southern Nights," "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky", "I'll Take a Melody" and "Mother-in-Law."


Early life and career

Toussaint grew up in a shotgun house in the New Orleansmarker neighborhood of Gert Townmarker, where his mother welcomed and fed all manner of musicians as they practiced and recorded with her son. After a lucky break at age 17 in which he stood in for Huey Smith at a performance with Earl King's band in Pritchard, Alabama, Toussaint was introduced to a group of local musicians who performed regularly at a night club on LaSalle street Uptown; they were known as the Dew Drop Set.

Initially, he recorded for RCA Victor as Al Tousan and recorded an album of instrumentals, including the song “Java,” which years later became a big hit for Al Hirt (also on RCA).

Also, in his early years Toussaint worked mainly for Joe Banashak's Minit Records and Instant Records, but after Minit was sold to its distributor, he teamed up with Marshall Sehorn, starting their own record label variously known as Tou-Sea, Sansu, Deesu or Kansu. In 1973 Toussaint and Sehorn created the Sea-Saint recording studio in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleansmarker.

Success in the '60s & '70s

In the early 1960s he wrote and produced a string of hits for New Orleans R&B artists such as Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, Art and Aaron Neville, The Showmen, and Lee Dorsey. Some of his songs from this period were published under the pseudonym Naomi Neville. "Ruler of My Heart", recorded by Irma Thomas, is one example; the song would go on to be recorded by Otis Redding under the title "Pain in My Heart". In 1964 "A Certain Girl" was the first single release by The Yardbirds. The two-sided 1962 hit by Benny Spellman, including "Lipstick Traces ," later covered by The O'Jays also had the simple but effective "Fortune Teller," covered by many 1960s rock groups including The Rolling Stones, The Nashville Teens, The Who, The Hollies, ex- Searchers founder member Tony Jackson and recently (2007) by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss on Raising Sand. A significant early influence was the second-line piano style of Professor Longhair.

Toussaint's piano and arrangements show up on hundreds of records during the early 1960's on records by Lee Dorsey, Chris Kenner, and scores of other artists.

Starting in the 1970s he switched gears to a funkier sound, writing and producing for The Meters, Dr John, and the Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians tribe. He also began to work with non-New Orleans artists such as Robert Palmer, Willy DeVille, Elkie Brooks, Solomon Burke, Scottish Soul singer Frankie Miller and southern rocker Mylon LeFevre. He arranged horn music for The Band's 1971 album Cahoots, Rock of Ages, The Last Waltz and arranged horn parts for their concert repertoire. Boz Scaggs recorded a Toussaint masterpiece "What Do You Want the Girl to Do?" on his 1976 album Silk Degrees which reached #2 on the U.S. pop albums chart.

Toussaint also launched his own solo career, which peaked in the '70s with the albums From a Whisper to a Scream and Southern Nights. It was during this time that he teamed with Labelle, and produced their highly acclaimed Nightbirds album from 1975, that spawned the Number One Hit, "Lady Marmalade". The same year, Toussaint collaborated with Paul McCartney and Wings for their hit album Venus and Mars. Two years later, Glen Campbell covered Toussaint's "Southern Nights" and carried the song to Number One on the Pop, Country and Adult-Contemporary Charts. Along with many of his contemporaries, Toussaint found that interest in his compositions was rekindled when his work began to be sampled by hip hop artists in the 1980s and 1990s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker in 1998.


Contrary to rumors at the time, Toussaint did not take refuge at the Louisiana Superdomemarker in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Instead, Toussaint weathered the storm in the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel. After the hurricane Toussaint left New Orleans for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and eventually settled in New York City, where he is currently living while his house is rebuilt. His first television appearance after the hurricane was on the September 7, 2005 episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, sitting in with Paul Shaffer and his CBS Orchestra. Toussaint now performs each month at Joe's Pub in New York City.

The River in Reverse, Toussaint's collaborative album with Elvis Costello, was released on 29 May 2006 in the UK on the Verve label, by Universal Classics and Jazz UCJ. It was recorded in Hollywoodmarker and, notably, in Toussaint's native New Orleansmarker as the first major studio session to take place after Hurricane Katrina.

In 2008, Toussaints' song "Sweet Touch of Love" was used in a deodorant commercial for the Axe (Lynx) brand. The commercial won a Gold Lion at the 2008 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

During February 2008, Toussaint appeared on Le Show, the Harry Shearer show broadcast on NPR via KCRWmarker.

Toussaint appeared in London in August 2008, where he performed a gig at The Roundhousemarker. In October 2008 he performed at Festival New Orleans at The O2marker alongside acts such as Dr. John and Buckwheat Zydeco. Sponsored by Quint Davis of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Philip Anschutz, the event was intended to promote New Orleans music and culture and to revive the once-lucrative tourist trade that had been almost completely lost following the flooding of Hurricane Katrina. After his second performance at the festival, Toussaint appeared alongside Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana Mitch Landrieu. A day later, 26 October, Toussaint performed again in London at the NFL Tailgate Party.

Toussaint performed a taping for the popular PBS series Austin City Limits on June 30, 2009 as part of the show's 35th anniversary season. He played instrumentals from his most recent CD "The Bright Mississippi", as well as many songs from his back catalog. The two hour performance by the 71 year old was described as masterful. He performed with the Levon Helm Band on the Imus in the Morning program viewed on Fox Business channel on October 9, 2009.



  • The Wild Sound of New Orleans (1958)
  • Toussaint (1971)
  • Life, Love And Faith (1972)
  • Southern Nights (1975)
  • Motion (1978)
  • The Allen Toussaint Collection (1991)
  • The Wild Sound of New Orleans: The Complete 'Tousan' Sessions (1994)
  • From a Whisper to a Scream (1995)
  • Connected (1996)
  • A New Orleans Christmas (1997)
  • A Taste Of New Orleans (1999)
  • Finger Poppin' & Stompin' Feet (2002)
  • The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (2005)
  • I Believe To My Soul (2005)
  • The River in Reverse, with Elvis Costello (2006)
  • The Bright Mississippi (2009)




  1. "New Orleans Great Toussaint feted in hometown," Associated Press, Aug. 1, 2009, at [1].
  3. Alison Fensterstock, "On Top of the Charts: Allen Toussaint is as sharp and prolific as ever", Gambit Weekly (New Orleans), May 1, 2007, p.23. (Archives online at
  4. Alison Fensterstock, op. cit.
  5. Alison Fensterstock, Cynthia Joyce and David Lee Simmons, "Stemming the Tide", Gambit Weekly (New Orleans), April 25, 2006. Retrieved January 25, 2008.
  7. Jerry Garcia Band: Jerry Garcia Band: Music
  8. Reflections: Jerry Garcia: Music
  9. After Midnight: Kean College, 2/28/80: Jerry Garcia Band: Music
  10. Jubilation: Band: Music
  11. Waiting for Columbus: Little Feat: Music
  12. Waiting for Columbus: Little Feat: Music
  13. The Bonnie Raitt Collection: Bonnie Raitt: Music
  14. The Best of Three Dog Night: Three Dog Night: Music
  15. New Traditionalists: Devo: Music
The Derek Trucks Band plays Get Out Of My Life Woman in their current 2009 tour.

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