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John Delafose

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John Delafose and his band the Eunice Playboys bridged the gap between zydeco's roots and its contemporary sound with a mastery matched by few of their peers; despite an affinity for early Creole styles, French lyrics and two-step waltz rhythms, they played with all of the fiery intensity demanded by modern-day audiences, tapping into a wide array of sources -- blues, Cajun, even country -- to forge a propulsive traditionalist sound all their own. Born April 16, 1939 in Duralde, Louisiana, Delafose as a child crafted fiddles and guitars out of old boards and cigar boxes fitted with window-screen wire; he eventually took up the harmonica, and at the age of 18 learned the button accordion. He soon turned to farming, and as a result did not seriously pursue music until during the early 1970s, at which time he served as an accordionist and harpist with a variety of local zydeco bands. By the middle of the decade his formed his own combo, the Eunice Playboys; originally featuring guitarist Charles Prudhomme and his bassist brother Slim, the group's lineup swelled over time to also include Delafose's sons John "T.T." on rubboard and Tony on drums. Another son, Geno, later joined as well, trading vocal and accordion leads with his father. Delafose and the Eunice Playboys debuted in 1980 with the regional hit "Joe Pete Got Two Women," from the LP Zydeco Man; Uncle Bud Zydeco followed in 1982, and as interest in traditional Creole culture swelled, the group became one of the hottest attractions on the Gulf Coast circuit. They returned in 1984 with Heartaches & Hot Steps, a year later issuing Zydeco Excitement; after a lengthy hiatus from the studio, Delafose resurfaced in 1992 with Pere et Garcon Zydeco. 1993's Blues Stay Away from Me was his final album; failing health forced him to curtail his touring schedule soon after, and on September 17, 1994, Delafose died. Geno succeeded his father as bandleader. ~ Jason Ankeny

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