*Legendary New Orleans pianist, songwriter, producer and performer, Allen Toussaint, who wrote such classics as “Working in a Coal Mine” and “Lady Marmalade,” has died after suffering a heart attack following a concert he performed in Spain, reports the AP. He was 77.
Rescue workers were called to Toussaint’s hotel early Tuesday morning and managed to revive him after he suffered a heart attack, according to Madrid emergency services spokesman Javier Ayuso.
But Toussaint stopped breathing during the ambulance ride to a hospital and efforts to revive him again were unsuccessful, Ayuso said. He had just performed the night before at Madrid’s Lara Theater.
“He was a legend in the music world,” said Quint Davis, who produces the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Toussaint performed there so often — frequently as a headliner — that Davis said he referred to it as his “annual concert.”
Toussaint was born in New Orleans’ Gert Town, a working class neighborhood of the city, where he lived in a “shotgun” house — so-called because you could stand at the front door and fire a shotgun through all rooms to the back door.
He went on to work as a producer for the New Orleans-based Minit Records in 1960 before being drafted in the Army for two years.
He created his own recording studio in 1973 with fellow songwriter Marshall Sehorn, called Sea-Saint Studio. There, he worked with such artists as Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Patti LaBelle, Joe Cocker and Elvis Costello.
Toussaint has hundreds of hits to his name and received the Recording Academy Trustees Award during the 2009 Grammy Awards. He penned the 1966 Lee Dorsey classic “Working in a Coal Mine” and produced Dr. John’s 1973 hit “Right Place, Wrong Time” and 1975’s “Lady Marmalade” by the vocal trio Labelle.
In 1998, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s also a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. In 2013 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama at a ceremony in Washington.
He had been expected to perform a benefit concert along with longtime friend Paul Simon in New Orleans on Dec. 8 at Le Petit Theatre to raise money for the organization, New Orleans Artists Against Hunger And Homelessness.