Warren Storm, Legendary Musician and Swamp Pop Pioneer, Dead at 84
We are very sad to pass along the news that Warren Storm, a Louisiana music icon known as "the Godfather of Swamp Pop Music," has died.
Born Warren Schexnider on February 18, 1937, in Abbeville, Storm was a well-known drummer and vocalist who began performing at the beginning of the 1950s after learning how to play drums and guitar from his father who was also a Cajun musician. In the early days, Storm performed publicly with Larry Brasso and the Rhythmaires.
As one of the first to coin the swamp pop sound, Storm was heavily influenced by R&B, Cajun music, country & western, and black Creole music. Shortly after he began performing, Storm linked up with another Abbeville musician by the name of Bobby Charles. The two would travel to New Orleans to hear black rhythm & blues artists play in the local nightclubs.
Those trips to New Orleans would help mold Storm's drumming style along with his musical taste, giving him a very unique sound. Charlie "Hungry" Williams was a New Orleans rhythm & blues artist that Warren Storm has personally cited as one of his major drumming influences.
Storm would found his own band in 1958, recording R&B/early rock and roll sounds for J.D. "Jay" Miller, a record producer out of Crowley, La. Warren Storm's version of an old country tune named "Prisoner's Song" was recorded to 45 RPM record along with a song titled "Mama Mama Mama (Look What Your Little Boy's Done) on the flip side. Miller convinced Nasco Records out of Nashville to put out the record and the release broke into the Billboard Hot 100.
Warren Storm would perform these songs for the rest of his life as they were both standards in his catalog.
He would go on to record swamp pop for many years after that for numerous labels, with a variety of fellow swamp pop musicians all throughout the 196s. Storm performed with Rod Bernard and Skip Stewart, forming The Shondells, recording and releasing tracks on the La Louisianne record label until disbanding around 1970.
Storm would continue recording in the 1970s, putting out two of his biggest regional hits, "Lord I Need Somebody Bad Tonight" and "My House of Memories." He was a staple at the biggest clubs and dancehalls in south Louisiana in the '80s and '90s while continuing to put out music as well.
In 1989, Storm teamed up with Rufus Thibodeaux, Clint West, and Johnnie Allan to record the Cajun Born LP.
Warren Storm would see his popularity rise again at the turn of the century, joining an all-star south Louisiana band by the name of Lil' Band of Gold. Along with Storm, the band included the likes of guitarist C. C. Adcock, accordionist Steve Riley of the Mamou Playboys; fiddler David Greely; Richard Comeaux of River Road; and pianist David Egan of Filé among numerous others.
During a fundraiser event called "Boogie for the Bayou" at Paragon Casino in Marksville, LA, Storm would perform on stage. It was that night on September 5, 2010, when Warren Storm was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Storm continued to perform up until as recently as a few weeks ago before he was admitted into the hospital with COVID. Many of his close friends and colleagues sent him well wishes, asking others to say a prayer for his recovery.
Late Tuesday night (September 7) tributes began to pour in as the news of Storm's passing began to make its way around social media.
Todd Ortego at KBON 101.1 confirmed the report of Storm's passing.
Yvette Landry, a local musician who assisted Storm in producing an album and writing a book, paid tribute to her close friend saying he was "always a kid at heart."
Over the last year, Major Handy was instrumental in keeping Storm active and playing the music he loved to perform. Warren Storm said he wanted to perform until he died and only 15 days separated him from doing what he loved and leaving this world.
Here is footage of one of his last times playing music with Major Storm, a collaborative group of players including Warren Storm and Major Handy.
It's incredible to think that Warren Storm has blessed this world with music for the past seven decades. He was 84 years old.
As more details on arrangements are available in the coming days we will update this story.
In the meantime, our condolences go out to the family of Warren Storm as well as those who were near and dear to the legendary swamp-pop pioneer and musical icon.