Professor Longhair (nee Henry Roeland Byrd and aka Fess) (December 19, 1918 - January 30, 1980) was a legendary New Orleans blues musician. He was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana. He was noted for his unique piano style, which he described as "a combination of rumba, mambo, and Calypso", and his unusual, expressive voice, described once as "freak unique". He was called the Bach of Rock and Roll.
His career in music began in the 1930s, dancing for tips. "The very first instrument I played was the bottom of my feet, working out rhythms, tap dancing. We used to dance all up and down Bourbon Street."
He learned guitar and piano and began to take music seriously when he found he could get out of work by playing piano for his fellow members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He also worked as a boxer, cook, and professional card player.
In the late 1940s, he sat in on piano at the Caldonia Club while Dave Bartholomew's band was taking a break. He was an immediate hit and Bartholomew, later famous as Fats Domino's bandleader and collaborator, was fired. The band all had long hair and were dubbed Pro...