"He was the most New Orleans of all the New Orleans acts that are still living," said Mid-City Lanes owner John Blancher.
Even in a city and musical community known for eccentric characters, Mr. Eaglin stood out. Extremely private, he lived with his family in St. Rose. For many years, he refused to perform on Friday nights, reportedly because of religious reasons.
The digits on Mr. Eaglin's right hand flailed at seemingly impossible angles as he finger-picked and strummed a guitar's strings. A set by the so-called "Human Jukebox" could range from Beethoven's "Fur Elise" to Bad Company's "Ready for Love."
Eaglin stuck with Imperial through 1963, when the firm closed up shop in New Orleans, without ever gaining national exposure. Eaglin found a home with Black Top Records in the 1980s, releasing four albums with the label, including 1988's Out of Nowhere (re-released on CD by P-Vine in 2007) and 1995's Soul's Edge. In 2003 P-Vine put out Soul Train from Nawlins, an album drawn from a live set Eaglin did at 1995's Park Tower Blues Festival. A collection of Eaglin's earliest recordings, all done on acoustic guitar, was released in 2005 by Smithsonian Folkways as New Orleans Street Singer. Snooks Eaglin continued performing and recording into the 21st century -- including his final album, 2002's The Way It Is -- and near the end of his life few knew that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer; Eaglin was admitted to New Orleans' Ochsner Medical Center in February 2009, where he died of a heart attack on the 18th of that month at age 73.
Snooks Eaglin, born Fird Eaglin, Jr. (January 21, 1936 – February 18, 2009), was a New Orleans-based guitarist and singer. He was also referred to as Blind Snooks Eaglin in his early years.
His vocal style is reminiscent of Ray Charles; in the 1950s, when he was in his late teens, he would sometimes bill himself as "Little Ray Charles". Generally regarded as a legend of New Orleans music, he played a wide range of music within the same concert, album, or even song: blues, rock and roll, jazz, country, and Latin. In his early years, he also played some straight-ahead acoustic blues.
His ability to play a wide range of songs and make them his own earned him the nickname "the human jukebox." Eaglin claimed in interviews that his musical repertoire included some 2,500 songs.
At live shows, he did not usually prepare set lists, and was unpredictable, even to his bandmates. He played songs that came to his head, and he also took requests from the audience. He was universally loved and respected by fellow musicians and fans alike.
Snooks Eaglin&Poppa Funk's Boys - Come on.