Pete Fountain, the iconic traditional jazz clarinetist personified New Orleans for millions of fans. For more than half a century, Fountain loomed large over the city's cultural landscape, from music to Mardi Gras to Bourbon Street. Pete’s clarinet tone instantly evoked New Orleans. His most famous recordings included “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” and “Basin Street Blues”, and at least three of his dozens of albums sold more than a half-million copies apiece. Pete represented Dixieland jazz on an international stage, and performed for four Presidents and a Pope. He hung out with everyone from Louis Armstrong to Dolly Parton to Hank Williams Jr. and was the unofficial ambassador of good-time New Orleans jazz. His greatest friendly rivalry was with trumpeter Al Hirt, whose club was down the street from Fountain's. They stole musicians from each other, and sometimes came into each other's clubs and played together. They were good friends who came up together and later recorded several albums together.Fountain was a founder and the most prominent member of the Half-Fast Walking Club, one of the best known freelance marching units that parade in New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day. Pierre Dewey Fountain, Jr. was born March 3, 1930 and died peacefully on August 6, 2016.
“The Gospel According to New Orleans”, my collection of iconic New Orleans musicians, commemorates their role in the evolution of the eccentric culture and music traditions of New Orleans. All depicted in this series are musical and cultural icons who make, or live on through, their significant contributions to the uniqueness of what composes the spirit of New Orleans. They exemplify the joie de vivre that runs through all aspects of life here in all of its diversity.
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