Boozoo Chavis Biography

Wilson Anthony Chavis, 23 October 1930, Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA, d. 5 May 2001, Austin, Texas, USA. This singer and accordionist was one of the first artists to popularise zydeco, the vernacular music of African-American Louisiana. Chavis had learned to play accordion and harmonica by the age of nine and performed around Lake Charles while in his teens. In 1954 he was signed to Folk-Star Records by owner Eddie Shuler. Chavis recorded a traditional song, ‘Paper In My Shoe’ (for which he and Shuler took writing credit), backed by the local Classie Ballou’s Tempo Kings. The incredibly rugged session marked the first time Chavis had played with a band. The record sold well regionally and was picked up for national distribution by Imperial Records of Los Angeles. Chavis continued to record for Folk-Star and Shuler’s Goldband label sporadically through the early 60s, then retreated from the music industry to breed and train racehorses in Shrevesport and Lafayette. He returned to performing again in 1984, playing with his sons Charles and Rellis in the Magic Sounds. Chavis quickly became a local favourite in Louisiana, and alongside Buckwheat Zydeco, Rockin’ Dopsie and John Delafose led a renaissance of zydeco in the mid-80s. He began recording for the small Maison de Soul, Rounder Records and Antone’s labels, and was featured in Robert Mugge’s movie The Kingdom Of Zydeco. Chavis died in May 2001, six days after suffering both a heart attack and a stroke.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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