- Snooks Eaglin
Infobox musical artist
Name = Snooks Eaglin
Img_capt = Snooks Eaglin in 2006
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Fird Eaglin, Jr.
Born = Birth date and age|1936|1|21|mf=y
New Orleans, Louisiana
Occupation = Musician
Years_active = 1953 – Present|Label = Money Pit, Black Top
Snooks Eaglin (born Fird Eaglin, Jr.,
January 21 1936, New Orleans, Louisiana) is a guitaristand singerin New Orleans. He has also been referred to as Blind Snooks Eaglin.
His vocal style is reminiscent of
Ray Charles; indeed, in the 50s, when he was in his late teens, he would sometimes bill himself as "Little" Ray Charles. He is generally regarded as a New Orleans R&B artist playing a wide range of music from blues, rock 'n' roll, jazz, country to Latin music. In his early years, he also played some straight-ahead acoustic blues.
His ability to play a wide range of songs and his ability to perfectly understand and make the tunes his own has earned him the nickname the "human jukebox." Eaglin has claimed in interviews that his musical repertoire to be as wide as 1,000 songs.
At live shows, he usually does not prepare set lists, and what he is to play is totally unpredictable, even to his bandmates. He plays songs that come to his head, and he also takes requests from the audience.
Eaglin lost his sight not long after his first birthday after being stricken with
glaucoma, and spent several years in the hospital with other ailments. Around the age of five Eaglin was given a guitar by his father, which he taught himself to play by listening to and playing with the radio. Being a mischievous young man, he was given the nickname "Snooks" after a radio character named Baby Snooks.
In 1947, at the age of 11, Eaglin won a talent contest organized by radio station WNOE by playing "Twelfth Street Rag". Three years later, he dropped out of the school for the blind to become a professional musician. In 1952, Eaglin joined the
Flamingoes, a local 7-piece band started by Allen Toussaint. The Flamingoes didn't have a bass player, and according to Eaglin, he played both the guitar and the bass parts at the same time on his guitar. He stayed with The Flamingoes for several years, until their dissolution in the mid-50s.
As a solo artist, his recording and touring have been inconsistent, and for a man with a career of about 50 years, his discography is rather slim. His first recording was in 1953, playing guitar in a recording session for James "Sugarboy" Crawford.
The first recordings under his own name came when
Harry Oster, a folklorist from Louisiana State University, found him playing in the streets of New Orleans. Oster made recordings of Eaglin between 1958 and 1960 during seven sessions which later became records on various labels including Folkways, Folklyric, and Prestige/Bluesville. These recordings were in folk blues style, Eaglin with an acoustic guitar without a band.
From 1960 to 1963, Eaglin recorded for Imperial. He played electric guitar on Imperial sessions with backup from a band including such stalwarts as
James Bookeron piano and Smokey Johnson on drums. He recorded a total of 26 tracks which can be heard on "The Complete Imperial Recordings" CD. Much of the material on Imperial were written by Dave Bartholomew. Unlike the Harry Oster recordings, these works on Imperial are New Orleans R&B in the style for which he is widely known for today. After Imperial, he recorded for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation in 1964 (alone at his home with a guitar, which is on CD "I Blueskvarter 1964: Vol.3.") For the remainder of the 1960s, he apparently went without any recordings.
His next work came on Swedish label Sonet in 1971. Another album "Down Yonder" was released in 1978 which featured
Ellis Marsalison piano. Apart from his own work, he joined recording sessions with Professor Longhairin 1971 and 72 ("Mardi Gras In Baton Rouge") He also played some funky guitars on The Wild Magnolias' first album recorded in 1973.
He got hooked up with Nauman and Hammond Scott of
Black Top Recordsin the 1980s which led to a recording contract with the label. Eaglin's Black Top years have been the most consistent years of his recording career as of today. In between 1987 and 1999, he recorded 4 studio albums and a live album, and he also appeared as a guest on a number of recordings of other Black Top artists including Henry Butler, Earl King, and Tommy Ridgley.
After Black Top Records closed its doors, Eaglin released "The Way It Is" from Money Pit Records in 2002, which is his most recent work as of today. Though it is on a different label, it is literally another Black Top release as it is produced by the same Scott brothers of Black Top.
Today, Eaglin lives in the suburbs of New Orleans in St. Rose with his wife Dorothea. Though he does not play many live shows, he still performs at Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans, and also at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.
*1971 "The Legacy Of The Blues Vol. 2" (Sonet)
*1978 "Down Yonder - Snooks Eaglin Today!" (GNP Crescendo)
*1987 "Baby, You Can Get You Gun!" (Black Top)
*1989 "Out Of Nowhere" (Black Top)
*1992 "Teasin' You" (Black Top)
*1995 "Soul's Edge" (Black Top)
*1996 "Soul Train from 'Nawlins: Live At Park Tower Blues Festival '95" (P-Vine)(Released as "Live In Japan" [Black Top, 1997] in the U.S.)
*2002 "The Way It Is" (Money Pit)
Harry Oster Recordings
*1961 "That's All Right" (Prestige/Bluesville)
*1991 "Country Boy Down In New Orleans" (Arhoolie)
*1994 "New Orleans Street Singer" (Storyville)
*2005 "New Orleans Street Singer" (Smithonian Folkways)
*1995 "The Complete Imperial Recordings" (Capitol)
*Blues & Soul Records Magazine No.6, Sept. 20, 1995 (Blues Interactions) "Snooks Eaglin Story & Discography"
*Blues & Soul Records Magazine No. 8, Mar. 31, 1996 (Blues Interactions) "Snooks Eaglin Interview"
*OffBeat Magazine, February 1995 issue "Snooks Eaglin on Parade"
* [http://www.wirz.de/music/eaglin.htm Illustrated Snooks Eaglin discography]
* [http://www.bluesaccess.com/No_38/snooks.html Blues Access Magazine cover story by Karl Bremer]
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