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Stanley Dural Jr. (1947 - 2016)

AP Photo / Alex Brandon

Stanley Dural Jr. (1947 - 2016)

Stanley Dural Jr., a musician and leader of Buckwheat Zydeco, died Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, in Lafayette, Louisiana, according to multiple news sources. He was 68.

Dural had been suffering from health problems in recent years. He was diagnosed with lung and vocal cord cancer in 2013, according to his manager and friend, Ted Fox.

An accomplished accordion player, Dural performed under the name Buckwheat Zydeco. He helped popularize the music of the French Creole speakers of Louisiana, known as Zydeco. The dance music prominently features accordion and washboard and blends influences from Creole, Cajun, and African-American musical traditions.

Dural notably performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics, as well as several appearances on national television and NPR. He also played at both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations.

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Born in Lafayette, Louisiana Nov. 14, 1947, Dural received the nickname “Buckwheat” because of his hair’s resemblance to that of the character Buckwheat from “Our Gang” and “The Little Rascals” movies.

He was an organ player for rhythm and blues groups during the 1960s and formed his own funk and soul band, Buckwheat and the Hitchhikers during the early 1970s. They were regionally successful, but Dural broke the 15-piece group up in 1975.

He was invited onstage to play organ by legendary zydeco musician Clifton Chenier. He had so much fun at the 1976 gig and saw how much the audience responded to the music that he changed gears and focused on zydeco for the rest of his musical career. He took up the accordion and formed Buckwheat Zydeco. He would become so closely associated with the band that people often called him “Buckwheat Zydeco.”

Throughout the 1980s he released a series of acclaimed albums and became the first zydeco act to sign with a major record label. In 1988 Buckwheat Zydeco opened for Eric Clapton on his North American tour. They also became a regular fixture at major music festivals such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Newport Folk Festival, and Montreaux Jazz Festival.

He won an Emmy for his music in “Pistol Pete: The Life and Times of Pete Maravich.”

Over the years, he became a de facto ambassador for zydeco and Creole music. He told NPR in 2009, “I love going to other countries because this is my culture, this is how I live.”

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