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Tony Joe White (1943 - 2018), “Polk Salad Annie” songwriter

Getty Images / Redferns / Charlie Gillett

The “swamp rock” musician had songs recorded by Elvis Presley and Tina Turner

Tony Joe White was a “swamp rock” legend who wrote the classic songs “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia.” White grew up in Louisiana and began performing at school dances. He signed with Monument Records in 1967, first hitting the charts in 1969 with “Polk Salad Annie.” White’s “swamp rock” music had elements of Cajun, country, blues, rock, and R&B.

He was inspired to write songs about his life after hearing Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe.” He wrote “Rainy Night in Georgia” in 1967 and it became a soul hit for singer Brook Benton in 1970. White wrote, recorded and performed throughout his life. His last album titled “Bad Mouthin’” was just released last month.

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Died: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 (Who else died on October 24?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 75 from a heart attack, according to his son Jody White


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Notable Quote: "Up to then, I never played nothing. I just sit and listened... But man, I started sneaking my dad’s guitar up to my room at night and learning the blues."  —White told the Tennessean in 2006 how at first he would just listen to music but was inspired to play after hearing blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins

What people said about him: "A big part of the South is quiet now with his passing... Reckon God wanted a little polk salad!" —Tanya Tucker

"He was always the Swamp King living in a modern world... His shows and his style were one of a kind and untouched by anybody else." —Shooter Jennings, son of Waylon Jennings

In 2015, White performed “Polk Salad Annie” with the Foo Fighters on “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Full obituary: The Tennessean

Related lives:

Musicians Memorial Site

Forever Elvis

Waylon Jennings: Outlaw

Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blues Man