Guitarist/singer Roscoe Chenier was born November 6, 1941 in the hamlet of Notleyville, just east of Opelousas. Though his family of sharecroppers was poor in material posses-sions, it was musically rich in talent. Related to both zydeco demigod, Clifton Chenier, and bluesman Morris ‘Big’ Chenier, his father Arthur ‘Bud’ Chenier was his main inspiration. Bud, a cajun accordionist, accompanied by his first cousin and fiddler John Stevens, the father of Duke Stevens, was widly popular, as he often would entertain at weekend house parties. “As a youngster, I’d just soak up the music”, Roscoe said.
His vocal gift manifested itself early, as he was invited in 1958 to join one of the hottest traveling bands in the territory; C.D and the Blue Runners, which featured three Gradnier brothers on harmonica, drums and bass and Lonesome Sundown on lead guitar. Roscoe remained with CD for over a dozen years, until 1970 and despite the British Invasion, still managed to find enough work to keep the blues alive. Things in the black com- munity changed and it was difficult earning a living, especially when the gigs were paying $6 per man per night. And, Roscoe began a succession for day jobs as a truck driver in order to make ends meet.
In the 70’s Roscoe led a rather peripatetic existence as a bluesman, drifting from band to band, finding gigs catch as catch can. for a year and a half, he served with Good Rockin’ Thomas and thereafter a hitch with Good Rockin’ Bob. Often he was a “hired gun” for artists like Lonesome Sundown and Clarence Randle. The final chapter of this itinerant period of Roscoe’s life was a three year stretch with local horn man Duke Stevens, who like Charles Tyler, also had a hit on Lee Lavergne’s Lanor label in the 60’s “I’ve been your fool.”
By 1980, Roscoe finally was his own man, leading his own band, shaped in his image. During the years he had some great players in his band and allthough some of them “retired” Roscoe always managed to attract capable replacements. Since that date, it’s been a long hard struggle to remain financially independent. And he’s tried various means, including recording, to jump start his career. Roscoe Chenier and his band appeared at the Blues Estafette in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2001. He also performed at the very prestigous North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague. Roscoe Chenier toured Europe regularly and performed on several major blues festivals. Roscoe’s last two releases are “Roscoe Style” (1998) and “Waiting For My Tomorrow” (2006).
Roscoe died on February 7, 2013.