Allen Toussaint, RIP

Sad news from the world of music this week: the piano-playing legend Allen Toussaint passed away.

The award-winning artist was known for songs like Working In The Coalmine, Southern Nights and Fortune Teller. He suffered a heart attack shortly after coming off stage at Madrid’s Teatro Lara on Monday night, reported Spanish newspaper El Mundo. He was found in his hotel and resuscitated – but suffered a second heart attack en route to hospital.

He was a fantastic pianist and had a really lovely manner… listening to tracks of him playing live always brought a smile to my face. I sadly never got to see him playing live.

Even if you’ve never heard of Allen Toussaint, you’ve probably heard one of his songs being covered by someone else.

Many of his songs became famous through cover versions, with the likes of The Who, The Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, Bo Diddley and The Doors re-interpreting his songs. He also produced Labelle’s signature hit Lady Marmalde in the 1970s, and released a collaborative album with Elvis Costello in 2006. Toussaint was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The citation said his greatest contribution “was in not allowing [New Orelans] old-school R&B traditions to die out but by keeping pace with developments in the rapidly evolving worlds of soul and funk.

Here he is at his best, performing ‘Working in a coal mine’ live on Jools Holland in 2010:

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