Blind Snooks EAGLIN 1961

Snooks Eaglin (born January 21, 1936 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a guitarist and singer in New Orleans. His real name is Fird Eaglin, Jr. He has also been referred to as Blind Snooks Eaglin. His vocal style is reminiscent of Ray Charles; indeed, in the 50s, when he was in his late teens, he would sometimes bill himself as "Little" Ray Charles. He is generally regarded as a New Orleans R&B artist playing a wide range of music from blues, rock 'n' roll, jazz, country to latin music. In his early years, he also played some straightahead acoustic blues.

His ability to play a wide range of songs and his ability to perfectly understand and make the tunes his own has earned him the nickname the "human jukebox." Eaglin has claimed in interviews that his musical repartoire to be as wide as 1,000 songs. At live shows, he usually does not prepare set lists, and what he is to play is totally unpredictable, even to his bandmates. He plays songs that come to his head, and he also takes requests from the audience.

Eaglin lost his sight not long after his first birthday after being stricken with glaucoma, and spent several years in the hospital with other ailments. Around the age of five Eaglin was given a guitar by his father, with which he taught himself to play by listening to and playing with the radio. Being a mischievous young man, he was given the nickname "Snooks" after a character on the radio named Baby Snooks.
In 1947, Eaglin at the age of 11 won a talent contest organized by radio station WNOE by playing "Twelfth Street Rag". Three years later, he dropped out of the school for the blind to become a professional musician. In 1952, Eaglin joined the Flamingoes, a 7-piece local band started by Allen Toussaint. This band didn't have a bass player, and according to Eaglin in interviews, he played both the guitar and the bass parts at the same time on his guitar. He stayed with this band for several years, until its dissolution in the mid 50s. According to Eaglin, he drove a car back home one night after a gig with the band when the rest of the members were too drunk to drive.

His recording and touring have hardly been consistent, and for a man with a career of about 50 years, his discography is rather slim. His first recording was in 1953, the recording session for James "Sugarboy" Crawford where Eaglin played guitar. The first recordings under his own name came when Harry Oster, a folklorist from Louisiana State University, found him playing in the streets of New Orleans. Oster made recordings of Eaglin between 1958 and 1960 on seven sessions which later became records on various labels including Folkways, Folklyric, and Prestige/Bluesville. These recordings were in folk blues style, Eaglin with an acoustic guitar without a band.
Then in between 1960 and 63, Eaglin recorded for Imperial. He played electric guitar on Imperial sessions, and a band including stalwarts such as James Booker on piano and Smokey Johnson on drums back him up. He recorded total of 26 tracks which can be heard on "The Complete Imperial Recordings" CD. Many of the materials on Imperial were written by Dave Bartholomew. Unlike the Harry Oster recordings, these works on Imperial are New Orleans R&B in the style which he is widely known for today. After Imperial, he recorded for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation in 1964 (alone at his home with a guitar, which is on CD "I Blueskvarter 1964: Vol.3") but for the remainder of the 1960's, he apparently went without any recordings.

His next work came on Swedish label Sonet in 1971. Another album "Down Yonder" was released in 1978 which featured Ellis Marsalis on piano. Apart from his own work, he joined recording sessions with Professor Longhair in 1971 and 72 ("Mardi Gras In Baton Rouge") He also played some funky guitars on The Wild Magnolias' first album recorded in 1973.
He got hooked up with Nauman and Hammond Scott of Black Top Records in the 1980's which led to a recording contract with the label. Eaglin's Black Top years have been the most consistent years of his recording career as of today. In between 1987 and 1999, he recorded 4 studio albums and a live album, and he also appeared as a guest on a number of recordings of other Black Top artists including Henry Butler, Earl King, and Tommy Ridgley.
After Black Top Records closed its doors, Eaglin released "The Way It Is" from Money Pit Records in 2002, which is his most recent work as of today. Though it is on a different label, it is literally another Black Top release as it is produced by the same Scott brothers of Black Top.
Today, Eaglin lives in the suburbs of New Orleans in St. Rose with his wife Dorothea. Though he does not play many live shows, he still performs at Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans, and also at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

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