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Ken Dashow
Jerry Byrne
Jerry Byrne
New Orleans rockabilly cat Jerry Byrne was born in the Crescent City in 1940 -- though raised in the town's Irish quarter, he nevertheless gravitated toward African-American music, and as a teen sang in area juke joints and strip clubs with the Loafers, a rock & roll band led by his cousin Mac Rebennack, the future Dr. John. (According to legend, Rebennack played guitar with the Loafers until a performance that culminated in a patron shooting up the nightclub -- a stray bullet claimed the tips of Rebennack's fingers, forcing his ultimately fortuitous move to the piano.) In 1957, Byrne joined his idol Little Richard on-stage during a gig in Slidell, LA, and his performance so impressed Specialty Records A&R exec Harold Battiste that Specialty signed the high-schooler a week later. In early 1958, Byrne entered producer Cosimo Matassa's legendary J&M Studios and -- with a backing band featuring Big Easy session legends Edgar Blanchard on guitar, Frank Fields on bass, and Art Neville on piano -- cut "Lights Out," a blistering rocker penned by Rebennack and Seth Davis.
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