News this weekend of a big loss to the accordion world: Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., founder/leader of Buckwheat Zydeco, has died at the age of 68.
Like many accordion-players, Dural started out as keyboardist. His first group was Buckwheat & the Hitchhikers, a funk group that managed to attain some success and a hit record in the Louisiana area. But, as NPR reports, it was a later gig playing organ for zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier that ignited Dural’s love for the rollicking, accordion-driven musical style:
“We played for four hours nonstop… And I thought we had just got onstage; that’s how much energy he had projected. I wound up staying with Clifton over two years. I said, ‘Next band I get, I’ll be playing accordion.’“
That “next band”, Buckwheat Zydeco, led to major-label record deals, Grammy and Emmy awards, worldwide tours, TV appearances, and collaborations with Eric Clapton, U2, Willie Nelson, and many others. Dural’s contribution to the popularity of zydeco cannot be overestimated.
After a struggle with lung cancer over the past several years, “Buckwheat” passed away at 1:32 Saturday morning–“keeping musician’s hours right to the bitter end,” as his manager put it.
His daughter has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical and other expenses.