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Pete Fountain
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Musician
    (July 3, 1930-August 6, 2016)
    Born in New Orleans, Louisiana
    Birth name was Pierre Dewey LaFontaine, Jr.
    Dixieland jazz clarinetist
    Recorded over 100 albums
    Notable songs included ‘Basin Street Blues,’ ‘Clarinet Marmalade’ and ‘Tin Roof Blues’
    Inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame (2007)
    He was a frequent guest on ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ until he and Welk had a falling out after he jazzed up ‘Silver Bells’ during a Christmas show.
    He also had trouble following Welk’s rules against drinking while playing: ‘He kept me sober – damn near killed me.’
    He formed a Mardi Gras krewe called the ‘Half-Assed Walking Club,’ until parade officials forced him to change the name to ‘Half-Fast Walking Club.’
    For several years, he wore a toupee but gave it up partly because the hairpiece would get soaked with sweat when he played: ‘It was like wearing a mop on your head.’
    He began playing clarinet in childhood as a therapy for weak lungs.
    He and Al Hirt performed the gospel standard ‘A Closer Walk with Thee’ at a mass celebrated in New Orleans by Pope John Paul II (1987).
    He lost many of his possessions and career mementos when his home in Mississippi was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina (2005).
    He was a staple of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, making nearly 40 appearances.
    He was married to Beverly Lang for 64 years.

Credit: C. Fishel


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