Influential Accordionist Buckwheat Zydeco Dies at 68

Zydeco's humble Louisiana origins launched him to international recognition.

By Hayden Wright

Today the music world mourns the death of Buckwheat Zydeco, the Louisiana accordionist who shared stages with U2, Eric Clapton, and The Roots. He was 68.

The Grammy nominee performed at Bill Clinton’s inauguration and the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Most importantly, Zydeco (born Stanley Dural, Jr.) introduced “zydeco” music of the Creole Southeast to the world, achieving rare mainstream success along the way.

“This is one of the world’s true genius musicians. A completely natural musician who could just fit in in any scenario,” said Zydeco’s manager Ted Fox. Zydeco recorded with Paul Simon and Willie Nelson, performed with Phil Collins and Ringo Starr — through his long and unique career, the list went on and on.

The musician, who died of complications from lung cancer, garnered tributes from the high echelons of the music industry.

“Buckwheat Zydeco embodied a genre and represented a community with his signature playing style that brought distinctly creole zydeco music to fans across the globe,” said Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. “The world lost a music heavyweight today.”


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