Jessie Hill

Born 9 December 1932. Died 17 September 1996.

Biography

Jessie Hill (December 9, 1932 – September 17, 1996) was an American R&B and Louisiana blues singer and songwriter, best remembered for the classic song "Ooh Poo Pah Doo".

Hill was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. By his teens he was playing drums in local bands, and in 1951 he formed his own group, the House Rockers. After periods performing as drummer with Professor Longhair and then Huey "Piano" Smith, Hill formed a new version of the House Rockers in 1958, which enabled him to focus on singing with the band.

The origins of "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" were apparently created from a tune played by a local pianist, who was known only as Big Four. Hill wrote the lyrics and melody, later expanding the work with an intro taken from Dave Bartholomew. It was further honed on stage, before Hill recorded a demo that he shopped to local record labels, finally recording a session at Cosimo Matassa's studio produced by Allen Toussaint. Upon its early 1960 release, it emerged as a favourite at Mardi Gras, selling 800,000 copies and reaching the Top 5 in the US Billboard R&B chart and a Top 30 slot in the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

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