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About Beau Jocque

Easily the biggest zydeco star of the 1990s, Beau Jocque heralded the rise of the genre's new, urbanized style; infusing his high-octane sound with elements of rock, soul, hip-hop and even reggae, he bridged the gap between traditional Creole culture and contemporary music to create a funky, bass-heavy hybrid calculated for maximum mainstream appeal. Born Andrus Espre in Duralde, LA, in 1952, Jocque spent his early adult years working as an electrician, but in 1987 he suffered a serious back injury which left him paralyzed from the waist down for over a year; during his recovery period he picked up his father's Cajun accordion, but always bored by traditional zydeco, he set about updating the music more to his own contemporary tastes. Jocque and his wife Michelle then spent the next five years painstakingly researching zydeco clubs, discovering which kinds of songs earned the greatest response from patrons; at the same time he absorbed the music of Boozoo Chavis, drawn by his propulsive rhythms. Finally, in 1991, he formed the Zydeco Hi-Rollers; the band was an immediate smash in the New Orleans circuit, drawing huge audiences -- many of them new to the Creole dancehall scene -- captivated by their hard-edged rhythms and Jocque's primal, cavernous vocals. A friendly rivalry with Chavis also increased his notoriety, and in 1993, the Hi-Rollers debuted with Beau Jocque Boogie, one of the best-selling zydeco records of all time. Pick Up on This! followed in 1994, and a year later they released the explosive live effort Git It, Beau Jocque!, which featured the hit "Give Him Cornbread." Gonna Take You Downtown appeared in 1996, followed two years later by Check It Out, Lock It In, Crank It Up! Beau Jocque died of a heart attack on September 10, 1999; the concert album Give Him Cornbread, Live! arrived nearly a year later. ~ Jason Ankeny

Duralde, LA
Nov 1, 1952

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