1930 – Eddie Bo, the pianist who recorded the minor 1969 R&B hit “Hook and Sling, Part 1,” is born in New Orleans.
Eddie Bo (born Edwin Joseph Bocage, September 20, 1930 in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Algiers and in the 9th Ward) is an American singer and one of the last New Orleans junker-style pianists. Schooled in jazz, he is known for his blues, soul and funk recordings, compositions, productions and arrangements. He debuted from Ace Records in 1955 and since then he has released more single records than anyone else in New Orleans other than Fats Domino. His song “Hook & Sling” was featured on the breakbeat compilation “Ultimate Breaks and Beats”. May 22nd 1997 was declared “Eddie Bo Day” in New Orleans by mayor Marc Morial while Bo was playing in Karachi, Pakistan. Bo has also been named New Orleans’ music ambassador to Pakistan.
Eddie Bo came from a long line of ship builders with the male members of his family being bricklayers, carpenters and masons by day and musicians by night. Eddie’s mother was a self-taught pianist in the style of friend, Professor Longhair. The Bo Family was involved in the traditional jazz community with cousins Charles and Henry plus Peter, who played with Sidney Bechet, contributing to jazz orchestras before the Second World War. .
Eddie graduated from Booker T. Washington High School before going into the army. After his army stint, he returned to New Orleans to study at the Grundwald School of music. There he learned piano, music theory and to sight read, and arrange music. It was at this time that he was influenced by Russian classical pianist Horowitz and was introduced to bebop pianists Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson.
Like a lot of other local musicians Eddie frequented the premier blues venue in town, the Dew Drop Inn on LaSalle Street. In the 1950s he and a group of New Orleans musicians toured the country supporting singers Big Joe Turner, Earl King, Guitar Slim, Johnny Adams, Lloyd Price, Ruth Brown, Smiley Lewis, and The Platters.
His first released record was in 1955 for Johnny Vincent’s Ace Records. In 1961, Eddie had a hit with the novelty dance song “Check Mr Popeye”. His next release, on Apollo Records, was “I’m Wise” which Little Richard later recorded as “Slippin’ and Slidin’”. Eddie also wrote “My Dearest Darling” for Etta James which put her at the top of the R&B charts and “In The Same Old Way” for Tommy Ridgley.
In the soul era he recorded the renowned “Pass The Hatchet” under the nom de disque, Roger and the Gypsies for Joe Banashak’s Seven B label as well as Fence of Love and SGB (Stone Graveyard Business) under his own name.
In 1969, at the height of funk, he penned and sang “Hook and Sling” (Scram Records) which reached No. 13 on the R&B charts in that year. It was his biggest hit since “Check Mr Popeye” and was recorded in just one take. The next year saw another hit with “Check Your Bucket” on his own Bo-Sound imprint.
He has produced and arranged records by such artists as Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Art Neville, Chris Kenner, Chuck Carbo, Irma Thomas, Johnny Adams, Mary Jane Hooper, Robert Parker, The Vibrettes, and The Explosions.
Eddie Bo has worked and recorded for more than 40 different record labels, including Ace, Apollo, Arrow, At Last, Blue-Jay, Bo-Sound, Checker, Chess, Cinderella, Nola, Ric (for which his carpentry skills were used to build them a studio), Scram, Seven B, and Swan.
In the 1970s Eddie, absorbed in the renovation business, disappeared from the music scene only to rise up again at the end of the decade with two albums, “Another Side of Eddie Bo” and “Watch for the Coming,” which he produced himself. In the 1980s and 1990s he recorded with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and resurrected his Bo-Sound label. He joined Willy DeVille play on two DeVille records, Victory Mixture and Big Easy Fantasy, and he toured with DeVille as well. He later joined up with Raful Neal and Rockin’ Tabby Thomas playing and recording under the names The Louisiana Legends, The District Court and The Hoodoo Kings.
He bought a doctor’s office and salon on Banks Street which he and his sister converted into an eatery for Bo’s fans called ‘Check Your Bucket’ after his 1970 hit. Due to Bo’s carpentry and bricklaying skills he took on the task of completing the hurricane damage repairs himself.
He has won many music awards including two Lifetime Achievement awards from the South Louisiana Music Association and Music/Offbeat Best of the Beat and was named New Orleans’ music ambassador to Pakistan. Eddie Bo continues to play live today wearing his signature cylindrical hat.
* 1988 Check Mr. Popeye (Rounder)
* 1993 New Orleans Piano Riffs for DJs (Tuff City)
* 1996 Back Up This Train
* 1995 Eddie Bo And Friends (Bo-Sound)
* 1996 Oo La La, Mardi Gras (Bo-Sound)
* 1997 A Shoot From The Root (Soulciety)
* 1998 Hole In It (Soulciety)
* 1998 Nine Yards Of Funk (Bo-Sound)
* 2001 We Come To Party (Bo-Sound)
* 2007 Saints, Let’s Go Marching On In (Bo-Sound)
* 2006 New Orleans Music in Exile