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Oliver Morgan

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New Orleans R&B singer Oliver Morgan remains best remembered for his 1963 hit "Who Shot the La La," a tribute to fellow Crescent City legend Prince La La. Born and raised in New Orleans' Ninth Ward alongside fledgling greats Fats Domino, Jessie Hill, and Smiley Lewis, Morgan first began singing in his local church. Upon signing to Harold Battiste's AFO label in 1961, he cut his earliest singles like "I'll Make a Bet" and "I Got a Feelin'" under the alias Nookie Boy, a childhood nickname bestowed by his aunt. When fellow Ninth Ward product and R&B eccentric Prince La La suffered a fatal but mysterious drug overdose in 1963, Morgan signed to GRP-Crescendo to cut the Cosimo Matassa-produced "Who Shot the La La." A lively, whimsical tribute to his late friend, the record proved a surprise crossover hit and Morgan soon went on tour in support of Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, and Don Covay. Follow-ups including "La La Man" and "Liver Quiver" fell flat, but Morgan remained a New Orleans institution, his colorful live act renowned for its signature second-line umbrella, previously a staple of jazz funerals. In addition to club appearances, he worked for years as a custodian at New Orleans' City Hall building, followed by a stint as caretaker of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. In 1997, Morgan recorded his first-ever album, the Allen Toussaint-produced I'm Home. Days after completing the sessions he suffered a stroke, and the following January, Toussaint headlined a benefit concert in his honor alongside fellow Crescent City immortals Irma Thomas, Ernie K-Doe, and Frankie Ford. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Morgan and wife Sylvia were forced to relocate to Atlanta after the breached levees destroyed their Lower Ninth Ward home. He died on July 31, 2007, at the age of 74. ~ Jason Ankeny

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06 May 1933 in New Orleans, LA

Years Active:

'60s, '70s, '80s, '90s