New Orleans music mainstay Allen Toussaint died after a performance in Madrid, Spain on Monday Night, his family confirmed to New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL. He was 77.
Toussaint was well-known in the city as a songwriter and producer, who performed regularly around town. Many credited his work as helping to shape the city’s music scene. He grew up in New Orleans and throughout his career produced for New Orleans-based artists before gaining international recognition.
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In the ’70s, he worked with stars like Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, The Meters, and Paul Simon , and his songs were later covered by the Rolling Stones, Glen Campbell, Jerry Garcia, and more. Last week, it was announced that Toussaint and Simon would perform together on Dec. 8 for a New Orleans Artists Against hunger and Homelessness benefit.
Toussaint’s work earned him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and a National Medal of the Arts in 2013.
“After his hometown was battered by Katrina and Allen was forced to evacuate, he did something even more important for his city — he went back. Allen has devoted his musical talent to lifting up and building up a city,” President Obama said when awarding him the medal. “Today, he’s taking the stage all over the world, with all kinds of incredible talent, doing everything he can to revive the legendary soul of the Big Easy.”