Chenier's 'Bogalusa Boogie' enters Grammy Hall of Fame
Recorded at Bogalusa's Studio in the Country
December 24, 2010
Pop quiz: What does Clifton Chenier, the King of Zydeco, have in common with The Beatles, Ray Charles, The Jackson 5, Willie Nelson and Prince?
They're all 2011 inductees into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The Recording Academy welcomed 30 new titles into the Grammy Hall of Fame last week. Chenier's landmark album from 1976, "Bogalusa Boogie," was at the top of the list.
Created in 1973, the Grammy Hall honors recordings of historical significance that are at least 25 years old. A special committee of music professionals reviews eligible recordings, which receive final approval from The Recording Academy Trustees.
In a press release, President Neil Portnow said the Hall of Fame represents all genres of music and shows the diversity of musical expression embraced by the Academy.
"These musical treasures have brought us timeless recordings, and each of them deserves to be memorialized. These recordings are living evidence that music remains an indelible part of our culture."
Chenier's "Bogalusa Boogie" is part of a class that includes The Beatles' "Penny Lane," Ray Charles' "Genius + Soul += Jazz," "I'll Be There" by The Jackson 5, Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again," Duke Ellington's "Ko-Ko," "Lovesick Blues" by Hank Williams and Prince's "Purple Rain." The songs are among 881 Hall of Fame titles on display at the Grammy Museum.
The Grammy Hall induction continues the fabulous legacy of Chenier, who died Dec. 12, 1987, but is still widely regarded as zydeco's greatest performer. An Opelousas native and longtime Lafayette residence, Chenier electrified the Creole French music of his youth with saxophones, trumpets, rock guitars and piano and won an international audience.
He won a Grammy in 1983 for his "I'm Here" album. In 1984, the National Endowment for the Arts award him a National Heritage Fellowship, the nation's highest honor for folk artists.
The Grammy Hall induction isn't the first national recognition for "Bogalusa Boogie," which was recorded in one October afternoon in 1975 at the famed Studio in the Country in Bogalusa. Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Buffet and Kansas are among the stars who have also recorded at the secluded compound.
After its initial release on Arhoolie Records of El Cerrito, Calif., "Bogalusa Boogie" became the first zydeco recording to receive a five-star rating from "Rolling Stone Record Guide." "Rolling Stone" called the album "Indispensable: a record that must be included in any comprehensive collection."
With a four-star rating, the "Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings" wrote, "Chenier and his men march through the varied programme with gusto, the recording is full of presence and John Hart seizes the opportunity to write the rulebook for zydeco saxophone. If you could own only one Clifton Chenier CD, this would be it."
John Hart does indeed sizzle, as does Paul "Lil Buck" Sinegal (guitar), Cleveland Chenier (rubboard), Joe Morris (bass) and Robert St. Julian (drums). The Red Hot Louisiana Band lived up to its name and was at its peak.
In the liner notes, Arhoolie owner Chris Strachwitz said Chenier and band ripped through 13 songs "one number after another without second takes as if they were playing a hot dance and were enjoying every moment of it. It was a pure joy from start to finish."
"Bogalusa Boogie" can be found at online retailers and the few record stores still standing.
Herman Fuselier is community relations manager for Barnes & Noble Lafayette. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.