Trustees Award: Dave Bartholomew

Dr. John pays tribute to the genius of legendary New Orleans bandleader/songwriter
  • Photo: Douglas Mason/Getty Images
    Dave Bartholomew
  • Photo: Tim Rosenfelder/Getty Images
    Dr. John
January 30, 2012 -- 2:54 pm PST
By Dr. John / GRAMMY.com

Guys like Dave Bartholomew come along once in a lifetime. Dave gave breaks to so many fantastic artists, from Fats Domino and Smiley Lewis to Johnny Fuller, Pee Wee Crayton, and Snooks Eaglin, and great musicians like Pappa Yellow "Tuts" Washington, Allen Toussaint, Huey Smith, James Booker, and Edward Franks. The list of musicians who played in his band and who he opened doors for is endless.

He is the bluiest, jazziest guy; a man always on top of his game who could pull off big-band hits and small group sessions. Dave is also the most consummate bizness cat I ever met. He always threw everybody out the studio when his sessions wuz going on. He is a trumpet player, songwriter, record producer, big-band leader, bizness man, as well as kindhearted.

For all of his responsibilities, he can keep it all together in times of confusion. No matter what, Dave kept it all rollin', a consummate bandleader. He kept a great band with the best players of the time. He was always ahead of the pack and this racket. He was stone bizness, but he did the best with what he had to deal with. He did so much work at Cosimo Matassa's studio and he got the most from all the musicians he used. He worked for Lew Chudd for many years at Imperial Records till Lou sold the label. Together, they found and recorded some of the greatest music to come out of New Orleans. They say Dave wrote more than 4,000 songs, and he probably arranged thousands more. In 1991 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He's also in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. He was swing and big band and R&B and rock and roll. Dave never stopped bein' the Dave who played bebop à la blues à la Dave ballads à la Dave totally original. That's Dave Bartholomew.

You touched people all around this world with music, the magic of yo horn, yo productions, and yo genius for putting things togetha.

(Dr. John, aka Mac Rebennack, is a five-time GRAMMY winner, including his most recent award in 2008 for Best Contemporary Blues Album for City That Care Forgot, his ode to post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.)

In addition to the GRAMMY Awards, The Recording Academy presents Special Merit Awards recognizing contributions of significance to the recording field, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award. Each year, The Academy invites friends and colleagues of Special Merit Awards recipients to pay tribute to the honorees' career accomplishments, while also adding colorful anecdotes and personal accounts. In the days leading up to the 54th GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY.com will present the tributes to the 2012 Special Merit Awards recipients.

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