Singer Theryl DeClouet, born in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans, passed away on July 15 at age 66.
Up until Galactic (he appeared on Galactic’s first four studio albums), DeClouet’s musical career had been rocky. He had fallen prey to hard drug addiction at an early age. He managed to ground himself in New Orleans and by early 1970 formed the Lyrics, an R&B vocal group. In the ’80s, DeClouet had a series of hits in Japan and the UK, but he never saw the break he was looking for until the mid-’90s when he hooked up with Galactic.
In a 2001 OffBeat interview at his home in Hollygrove, DeClouet tells his story: “I was born in this neighborhood, but then when I was three we left for Minneapolis. We used to move around a lot. Being from New Orleans made me unique. Kids would call me ‘New Orleans.’ They would say, ‘He’s cool. He can sing!’ When I used to come in with my group and rehearse my dad would say, ‘Now promise me, if y’all get a hit record and make some money, you’ll make this joker go back to school!’ He never really believed in music, and didn’t live long enough to see me make any money at it.”
Regarding his nickname, DeClouet says: “Ivan Neville gave me that name. They used to hang out at my house shooting craps, the whole little crew there, and one day they were going to fight. I threw my pistol down on the table and it went off. Everybody got scared. So they said, ‘Okay, you da Houseman.’ It just stuck. That’s how Robert and them [of Galactic] got it. In the first five years of them knowing me, they didn’t know my name. Mike would say, ‘Hey that’s the Houseman, but we don’t call him that ’cause he’s big and fat. It’s because he take the house wherever he go.’”
Galactic took to social media to share the news that former frontman DeClouet passed away: “It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our good friend, mentor, musical collaborator and Galactic vocalist of many years Theryl ‘The Houseman’ DeClouet,” the announcement read. “This evening in New Orleans he passed away peacefully surrounded by friends and loved ones. Anyone who was ever in the presence of Houseman knows his inimitable voice, his infectious personality, and his unforgettable storytelling. He taught us so much about life, music, the music business and how to become the men we are now. We will miss him immensely and we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”