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Friday, May 30, 2014

Huey “Piano” Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues (LSU Press), by John Wirt

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In mid-century New Orleans, when Huey “Piano” Smith was coming up, music was almost as common as air—and probably more available than clean drinking water. For the first ever biography of the influential figure in American music, author John Wirt was able to interview the piano pounder along with musicians who played with him and other associates. His story had never been told in such detail, but the arc is familiar: he never received the money he was due from such songs as “Sea Cruise” and “Rockin’ Pneumonia,” yet enjoyed a late burst of fame through cover versions by the Grateful Dead, Aerosmith and other rock acts.