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Allen Toussaint
AllenToussaintFreretStFestival2009DSBNOLA (cropped).jpg
Toussaint in 2009
Background information
Born (1938-01-14)January 14, 1938
Gert Town, Louisiana, U.S.
Origin New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Died November 10, 2015(2015-11-10) (aged 77)
Madrid, Spain
Genres R&B, soul, southern soul, funk, blues, jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, arranger, record producer
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1958–2015
Labels RCA Victor, Scepter, Minit, Instant, Reprise, Warner Bros., Nonesuch, Elektra, Rounder
Associated acts Merry Clayton
Venetta Fields
Dr. John
The Meters
Irma Thomas
Joan Harmon
Deborah Paul
Sharon Neborn
John Mayall
Etta James
Bonnie Raitt
Rosemary Butler
Elvis Costello
Paul McCartney
The Band
Lee Dorsey

Allen Toussaint ( January 14, 1938 – November 10, 2015) was an American musician, songwriter-composer, record producer, and influential figure in New Orleans R&B.

Many of Toussaint's songs became familiar through cover versions by other musicians, including "Working in the Coal Mine", "Ride Your Pony", "Fortune Teller", "Play Something Sweet", "Southern Nights", "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky", "I'll Take a Melody", "Get Out of My Life, Woman" and "Mother-in-Law".

Early life

Toussaint was born in Gert Town, New Orleans. He was raised in Gert Town and in New Orleans. His mother was Naomi Neville.


In 1960, Toussaint was hired as a record producer by a label in New Orleans. He was also looking for new talent to sign to the label, named Minit Records. Toussaint played piano, wrote, and produced many hit records in the early and mid 1960s for New Orleans R&B artists. Some examples are:

  • Jessie Hill's "Ooh Poo Pah Doo"
  • Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-in-Law", written by Toussaint
  • Chris Kenner's "I Like It Like That"
  • "Ruler of My Heart", recorded by Irma Thomas. This song was later recorded again by Otis Redding (with the title "Pain in My Heart"), and by The Rolling Stones on their second album.
  • In 1964, "A Certain Girl" (originally by Ernie K-Doe) was the B-side of the first single by The Yardbirds; the song was released again in 1980 by Warren Zevon.
Toussant Obama Medal 2013
Allen Toussaint receiving the National Medal of Arts in 2013 (pictured with President Obama)


In 1998, Toussaint was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2009 into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. On May 9, 2011, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

In 2013 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.


Toussaint died while touring in Madrid, Spain after suffering a heart attack at his hotel, aged 77.

Toussaint’s two marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his two children, son Clarence (better known as Reginald) and daughter Alison, and by several grandchildren. His children had managed his career in recent years.

  • [ Allen Toussaint profile],; accessed October 5, 2014.

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