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Bobby Charles


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An ethnic Cajun, Charles was born as Robert Charles Guidry in Abbeville, Louisiana and grew up listening to Cajun music and the country and western music of Hank Williams. At the age of 15, he heard a performance by Fats Domino, an event that « changed my life forever, » he recalled.

Charles helped to pioneer the south Louisiana musical genre known as swamp pop. His compositions include the hits « See You Later, Alligator, » which he initially recorded himself as « Later Alligator », but which is best known from the cover version by Bill Haley & His Comets; and « Walking to New Orleans », written for Fats Domino. His songwriting record in the UK charts reads 7 hits, 3 top tens with 75 weeks spent on the chart.

« (I Don’t Know Why) But I Do » was a 1950s classic that Charles composed which Clarence « Frogman » Henry had a major hit with and which was on the soundtrack to the 1994 movie Forrest Gump. His composition « Why Are People Like That? » was on the soundtrack to the 1998 movie Home Fries.

Because of his south Louisiana-influenced rhythm and blues vocal style, Charles has often been thought to be black, when in fact he is white.

On November 26, 1976, Charles was invited to play with The Band at their farewell concert, The Last Waltz. Charles played « Down South in New Orleans », with the help of Dr. John and The Band. The performance was recorded and released as part of the triple-LP The Last Waltz boxed set.

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