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Legendary New Orleans Drummer Bob French Dies at 74

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Legendary New Orleans drummer Bob French died in November at the age of 74. The leader of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band and local icon had maintained a profound influence over New Orleans Jazz artists from Harry Connick, Jr. to Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews.

French inherited the Tuxedo Band leadership in 1977 from his father, Albert “Papa” French, during that group’s 100-plus years in existence and he led it until his death.

French began drumming as a child and formed a band in high school that included notable musicians like Jamesss Booker, Art Neville, Charles Neville, Kidd Jordan, and Alvin Batiste.  He had a minor recording career, working at times with Earl King, Fats Domino, and Dave Bartholemew, but his fame was greatest in his hometown of New Orleans. The most well-known recording of his music is Branford Marsalis’s 2007 tribute, Marsalis Music Honors Bob French.  He was also a radio host at WWOZ New Orleans.

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