NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans music legend Walter “Wolfman” Washington, a cornerstone of the city’s musical nightlife for decades, died of cancer just days after turning 79 .
Washington died at Passages Hospice on December 22, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.
A funeral is scheduled for January 4th at 2pm at the Jacob Shane & Son Funeral Home. The Tipitina music venue is scheduled for a benefit concert on January 8 to help with medical and funeral costs.
Washington and his band, the Roadmasters, mixed blues, R&B, funk and soul, punctuated by his trademark howls, the paper reported. In Michael Murphy’s 2005 New Orleans music documentary Make It Funky!, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards pays tribute to Washington for his guitar style and tone. Yes, the paper reported.
Washington began her career by supporting New Orleans music legends Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey and Johnny Adams.
“Johnny taught me a lot,” Washington recalled in 1999. please take it easy. Please don’t rush. Once you get used to going over there, it’s easy to climb. He also played guitar. He showed me how to strike notes, how to move from one note to another, paying attention to why the note fell there. he was like a dad I could talk to him about anything. “
Washington assisted Adams on several Rounder Records albums before releasing their first album with the Roadmasters, ‘Leader of the Pack’, on the Hep’Me label in 1981. He recorded his 1986 ‘Wolf Tracks’ and later ‘Out of the Dark’ and ‘Wolf at the Door’. The 1991 album ‘Sada’ was named after his eldest daughter.
Although he traveled internationally and occasionally toured domestically, New Orleans nightclubs were his heart and soul. He was one of the first musicians in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to do a generator-powered show at the Maple Leaf.
After not releasing a new album in over a decade, Washington made a comeback with 2018’s My Future Is My Past. The album reunited with Thomas for a duet on Adams’ old song “Even Now” and earned Washington some of the best reviews of his career.
They recently completed another batch of eight blues-tinged songs, produced by Galactic saxophonist Ben Ellman. Washington’s manager, Adam Shipley, is now pitching the finished album to record labels, the paper reported.
“For the last six or seven years, Walter got the recognition he deserved,” Shipley said. “He released some great music and had a great life.”
A devoted smoker and drinker with a colorful personal life, Washington has recovered from numerous health problems over the years. Still, his March diagnosis of tonsil cancer was surprising.
Despite undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he continued to perform at this year’s French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
His wife, Michelle Washington, said, “No one could know what he was going through.” He was a trooper to the end. He lived a wonderful life, he touched many people and brought him much joy.”
In addition to his wife, survivors include two daughters, Thada Washington and Mamadou Washington, and a son, Brian Anderson.