Joe Barry Biography

Joseph Barrios, 13 July 1939, Cut Off, Louisiana, USA, d. 31 August 2004, Cut Off, Louisiana, USA. Barry was one of the best-known disseminators of a specialized style of early rock ‘n’ roll peculiar to Louisiana that later came to be called ‘swamp pop’. Like many swamp pop artists, Barry was a Cajun (the local term for French-American). In his youth he performed in Cajun music bands, and in 1956 made his first rock ‘n’ roll recordings. Barry’s first record to garner recognition, albeit local, was ‘Greatest Moment Of My Life’ in 1960. His ‘I’m A Fool To Care’ (number 24 pop) in 1961 was a national hit and an archetypal swamp pop record, being a slow, melancholic ballad heavily influenced by R&B. It entered the UK chart the same year at number 49. The singer had one other national hit, ‘Teardrops In My Heart’ (number 63 pop), also from 1961.

Barry continued to enjoy local success for several more years, but in 1967 ended his full-time career in the music business, thereafter making only occasional forays into the recording scene. The most ambitious enterprise took place in 1976, when he recorded in Houston under producer Huey P. Meaux an entire album of country ballads, Joe Barry, that did not reflect his swamp pop roots. The country audience liked it, however. In 1980 Barry independently recorded an album of religious songs, Sweet Rose Of Sharon. Twenty years later he began recording a new studio album. Despite serious physical problems that limited his ability to sing complete takes, Barry finally completed the record in 2003. Been Down That Muddy Road was released by Night Train Records later the same year. He died of multiple medical complications the following August.

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