Conhecido(a) por: Acting
Early life. Booker was the son and grandson of Baptist ministers, both of whom played the piano. He spent most of his childhood on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where his father was a church pastor. Booker received a saxophone as a gift from his mother, but he was more interested in the keyboard. He played the organ in his father's churches. After returning to New Orleans in his early adolescence, Booker attended the Xavier Academy Preparatory School. He learned some elements of his keyboard style from Tuts Washington and Edward Frank. Booker was highly skilled in classical music and played music by Bach and Chopin, among other composers. He also mastered and memorized solos by Erroll Garner and Liberace. His performances combined elements of stride, blues, gospel and Latin piano styles. 1954 to 1976: Recording and touring. Booker made his recording debut in 1954 on the Imperial Records label, with "Doin' the Hambone" and "Thinkin' 'Bout My Baby", produced by Dave Bartholomew. This led to some session work with Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, and Lloyd Price.In 1958, Arthur Rubinstein performed a concert in New Orleans. Afterwards, eighteen-year-old Booker was introduced to the concert pianist and played several tunes for him. Rubinstein was astonished, saying "I could never play that ... never at that tempo" (The Times-Picayune, 1958). During this period, Booker also became known for his flamboyant personality among his peers. After recording a few other singles, he enrolled as an undergraduate in Southern University's music department. In 1960, Booker's "Gonzo", for Peacock Records, reached number 43 on the United States (U.S.) record chart of Billboard magazine and number 3 on the R&B record chart. Following "Gonzo", Booker released some moderately successful singles. In the 1960s, he started using illicit drugs, and in 1970 served a brief sentence in Angola Prison for drug possession. At the time, Professor Longhair and Ray Charles were among his important musical influences.As Booker became more familiar to law enforcement in New Orleans due to his illicit drug use, he formed a relationship with District Attorney Harry Connick Sr., who was occasionally Booker's legal counsel. Connick would discuss law with Booker during his visits to the Connick home and made an arrangement with the musician whereby a prison sentence would be nullified in exchange for piano lessons for Connick Sr.'s son Harry Connick Jr.In 1973 Booker recorded The Lost Paramount Tapes at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California, U.S. with members of the Dr. John band, which included John Boudreaux on drums, Jessie Hill on percussion, Alvin Robinson on guitar and vocals, Richard "Didymus" Washington on percussion, David Lastie on sax, and David L. Johnson on bass guitar. The album was produced by former Dr. John band member David L. Johnson and by singer/songwriter Daniel Moore. The master tapes disappeared from the Paramount Recording Studios library, but a copy of the mixes that were made around the time of the recordings was discovered in 1992, which resulted in a CD release on DJM Records. Booker then played organ in Dr. John's Bonnaroo Revue touring band in 1974, and also appeared as a sideman on albums by Ringo Starr, John Mayall, The Doobie Brothers, Labelle and Maria Muldaur throughout this period.Booker's performance at the 1975 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival earned a recording contract for him with Island Records. His album with Island, Junco Partner, was produced by Joe Boyd, who had previously recorded Booker on sessions for Muldaur's records. In January 1976, Booker joined the Jerry Garcia Band; however, following two Palo Alto, California, concerts that involved Garcia "backing up ... Booker on most numbers," 1976 to 1978: Success in Europe. Booker recorded a number of albums while touring Europe in 1977, including New Orleans Piano Wizard: Live!, which was recorded at his performance at the "Boogie Woogie and Ragtime Piano Contest" in Zurich, Switzerland—the album won the Grand Prix du Disque. He also played at the Nice and Montreux Jazz Festivals in 1978 and recorded a session for the BBC during this time. Fourteen years later, a recording entitled Let's Make A Better World!—made in Leipzig during this period—became the last record to be produced in the former East Germany. In a 2013 interview, filmmaker Lily Keber, who directed a documentary on Booker, provided her perspective on Booker's warm reception in European nations such as Germany and France: Well, the racism wasn't there, the homophobia wasn't there—as much. Even the drug use was a little more tolerated. But really I think that Booker felt he was being taken seriously in Europe, and it made him think of himself differently and improved the quality of his music. He needed the energy of the audience to feed off. Keber further explained that Europeans refer to jazz as "the art of the twentieth century" and suggests that the "classical tradition" that is present in the continent led to a greater understanding of Booker among audiences. Keber states that Booker was "concert-hall worthy" to European jazz lovers. 1978 to 1983: Return to the U.S.. From 1978 to 1982, Booker was the house pianist at the Maple Leaf Bar in the Carrollton neighborhood of uptown New Orleans. Recordings during this time, made by John Parsons, were released as Spiders on the Keys and Resurrection of the Bayou Maharajah. Following his success in Europe, Booker was forced to adjust to a lower level of public recognition, as he performed in cafes and bars. Keber believes this shift was "devastating" to Booker, as he was aware of his own talent.Booker's last commercial recording, made in 1982, was entitled Classified and, according to producer Scott Billington, was completed in four hours. By this time, Booker's physical and mental condition had deteriorated. Furthermore, Booker was subject to the social stigma that affected people who used illicit drugs and who experienced mental health issues during this era of American history.At the end of October 1983, filmmaker Jim Gabour captured Booker's final concert performance for a series on the New Orleans music scene. The series, entitled Music City, was broadcast on Cox Cable and included footage from the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans and a six-and-a-half-minute improvisation called "Seagram's Jam." Death. Booker died aged 43 on November 8, 1983, while seated in a wheelchair in the emergency room at New Orleans' Charity Hospital, waiting to receive medical attention. The cause of death, as cited in the Orleans Parish Coroner's Death Certificate, was renal failure related to chronic abuse of heroin and alcohol.
Filmes e Séries de TV
Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker
Bayou Maharajah explores the life and music of New Orleans piano legend James Booker, the man Dr. John described as "the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced." A...