By TOM D'ANTONI
Heart attack in Spain after performing Monday night. Had played Waterfront Blues Festival this summer. Includes OMN audio interview from June of 2015. / Photo by Anthony Pidgeon
Allen Toussaint, New Orleans composer, producer and performer, died of a heart attack on Tuesday (Nov. 10) while on tour in Europe. He was 77.
The legendary New Orleans musician had performed a concert at Madrid's Lara Theater on Monday night, according to the Associated Press.
Madrid emergency services spokesman Javier Ayuso said rescue workers were called to Mr. Toussaint's hotel early Tuesday morning and managed to revive him after he suffered a heart attack. But Ayuso said Mr. Toussaint stopped breathing during the ambulance ride to a hospital and efforts to revive him again were unsuccessful.
Mr. Toussaint, an elegant, talented, versatile force, turned out an avalanche of songs that have become a sturdy part of the canon of New Orleans music.
At the Waterfront Blues Festival this summer, Allen Toussaint thrilled the audience with a magnificent performance of some of his greatest hits and a few new tunes he wanted to try out on the crowd. Even the most knowledgeable in the audience felt there was something special about this performance. When he was in the thick of it, and began playing an Ernie K-Doe medley ("Mother-In-Law" etc.) there were some long-time New Orleans music fans, who were astonished at the freshness and virtuosity he brought to decades-old tunes. And they expressed that to each other.
Clearly it was a special occasion.
I felt this might be the final time I'd hear him perform.
He was a special person, also. The one word that anyone who ever met him used to describe him was "gentleman." I found this to be true every time I met and/or interviewed him.
A month before the WBF, I spoke with him via Skype. He was in his office in New Orleans and I was in Portland. The interview speaks volumes about the joy he brought to the music and his untiring pursuit of his art. Listen:
This was part of his final performance in Spain on Monday