I was just waking up early yesterday when I heard the news: Allen Toussaint had died.
I was shocked. Dumbfounded. Numb.
I suppose that’s what always happens when a friend suddenly passes away.
But Allen was not just a friend. He was an extraordinary human being, and he touched my life personally in so many ways.
Obviously, his influence on New Orleans music and musicians, and his influence on the rest of the world was profound. Of any local musician and performer, Allen was probably the king and certainly one of the New Orleans-born musicians who actually made a damn good living from his music, specifically from songwriting/publishing (His gold Rolls-Royce’s license plate read “SONGS.”)
Furthermore, he was a prince among men. I never met anyone else in the music business that was so kind, humble, soft-spoken, and such the ultimate gentleman, with never a bad word to say about anyone.
I always told Allen that he should write his autobiography, or a memoir because he’d had such a very interesting life, but I don’t think he wanted to; maybe he didn’t think what he’d accomplished was so very important to the world (see what I mean about humble?). At one point (pre-Katrina) he told me that he had kept a daily journal almost all of his life (which was sort of exciting to hear). But that was lost during Katrina, along with everything else he owned and had worked on musically that was in his home and personal studio.
It’s hard to believe that I’ll never get to talk to him again, hear his mellifluous voice, listen to his stories, or see him again, in his beautiful tailored suits, expensive sandals with socks. Goofy. So Allen.
We do have his music and his legacy, thank the Lord: but Allen’s passing is truly the end of an era, and it makes me anxious about anticipating the passing of so many of the musical friends I’ve made throughout my career.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Toussaint. You gave (and will still give) so much to our world. Southern Nights won’t the same without you.