Famous Louisiana Zydeco Musicians Biographies
Discover the artists behind the festive sounds of zydeco music in Louisiana.
AMÉDÉ ARDOIN (1898 – 1942) was a Creole accordionist who is credited with laying much of the groundwork for Cajun music’s evolution in the early 1900s. He was also one of the first Cajun musicians to record music from the Acadiana region of Louisiana. Only 34 recordings are known to exist.
CALVIN CARRIERE (1921-2002) was an American fiddler who was known for his Zydeco music. He acquired much of his skill learning from his uncles Bebe and Eraste Carriere, two of the pioneers of early Creole music.
BOOZOO CHAVIS (1930 – 2001) performed for decades and was a prolific songwriter. Many of his works became standards in zydeco music, earning him the title “King of Zydeco” among leaders in the genre.
CLIFTON CHENIER (1925 – 1987) indirectly penned the name of the zydeco genre with his song "Zydeco Sont Pas Sales." The song title is a variant of les haricots son pas sale, which in French translates to “the snap beans are not salty.” It is a metaphor for people being impoverished to the point of not having meat to eat – it was commonplace for rural people in the early 20th century to use meat to salt vegetables.
JOHN AND GENO DELAFOSE are noted father/son zydeco musicians and accordionists. Geno began playing rubboard in his father’s band, the Eunice Playboys, when he was only 8. When his father passed in 1994, Geno switched to accordion and formed his own band, French Rockin’ Boogie. The father and son have a GRAMMY® nomination among their accolades and Geno continues to perform in Louisiana and abroad.
STANLEY DURAL JR. (1947 – 2016), known professionally as BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO, was one of the first zydeco artists to see professional success across mainstream America. He has performed with acts including Eric Clapton, U2 and Boston Pops. His largest worldwide audience was when he played at the closing ceremonies for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
ANDRUS ESPRE (1953 – 1999), known professionally as BEAU JOCQUE, took up accordion when a workplace injury left him bed-ridden for an extended period. Within two years, he had formed a band and was touring regionally with a devout following. The 6-foot-6-inch, 270-pound performer took his stage name because it translated to “big guy” in English.
ROSIE LEDET (1971) became infatuated with zydeco at the age of 16 when she attended a Boozoo Chavis show in Lawtell. She began taking accordion lessons from a gentleman she met at the club — who would eventually become her husband. She now tours abroad and has nine albums to her credit.
ALTON RUBIN (1932 – 1993), known professionally as ROCKIN’ DOPSIE, was a popular zydeco accordionist in Europe before his American career took off. His career got a big boost when he performed with Paul Simon on his "Graceland" album, and he has also played with Bob Dylan and Cyndi Lauper.
SIDNEY SIMIEN (1938 – 1998), also known as ROCKIN’ SIDNEY, gained acclaim with the release of his song "My Toot Toot." Simien wrote the song and played all the instruments when he recorded the piece in his Lake Charles home studio in 1984. The song went from a regional hit to international popularity virtually overnight — it was a platinum seller and it earned Simien a GRAMMY® Award.
TERRANCE SIMIEN (1965) won the 2008 GRAMMY® for Best Cajun or Zydeco Album. He has performed in more than 40 countries, won a second GRAMMY® and has shared the stage and recording studios with artists including Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Robert Palmer, Dr. John and The Meters.
GOLDMAN THIBODEAUX (1921) is a Creole accordionist from Lawtell. Thibodeaux is a living preservationist of "La La," the acoustic accordion that laid the foundation for modern zydeco.
SID AND NATHAN WILLIAMS are big contributors to the zydeco scene in Lafayette. Nathan is the front man for Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, and older brother Sid owns El-Sid O’s zydeco and blues club in Lafayette, where Nathan performs frequently. Both are accordionists.