Le Roux (band)
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (November 2010)|
Louisiana's LeRoux (a.k.a. LeRoux) is a pop/rock band founded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA that saw its heyday from 1978 to 1983. Their best-known songs were "Take a Ride On a Riverboat" with its 4-part a capella intro, the regional smash "New Orleans Ladies", "Nobody Said It Was Easy (Lookin' For the Lights)" (their highest charting single), "Addicted", and "Carrie's Gone". Their early music, though pop-oriented, combined many elements such as funk, R&B, Dixieland jazz, rock, and some Cajun flavoring, thus defying a pigeonhole into one definable category, like many other diverse Louisiana artists common to an area known for its many musical influences and tastes. After recording the album Up in 1980, they became a noteworthy exponent of the developing AOR sound. The band continues to perform live throughout the U.S., mostly at fairs and festivals in the Louisiana area.
In 1977 several former members of a group called the Levee Band, who had been playing as backup players for Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Clifton Chenier, signed a deal with Capitol Records as The Jeff Pollard Band. Leon Medica, the band's producer and bassist, had presented a demo tape to Paul Tannen at Screen Gems-EMI while doing a session in Nashville and making trips to Colorado to contribute bass parts to a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album at William McEuen's Aspen recording Society Studios. McEuen, Tanney, and Attorney John Frankenheimer helped Medica secure the contract with Capitol.
By early 1978, they had changed their name to Louisiana's LeRoux, which refers to roux, a Cajun gravy base used to make gumbo. The band was originally composed of Jeff Pollard (vocals, guitars), David Peters (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Leon Medica (bass, backing vocals), Tony Haselden (vocals, guitars), Rod Roddy (vocals, keyboards, synthesizers), and Bobby Campo (horns, percussion, violin, backing vocals). All of the songs on the self-titled 1978 debut album were sung and written by Pollard, except "New Orleans Ladies", which was written by Medica and Hoyt Garrick. It reached #59 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1978. Two more albums followed (Keep The Fire Burnin' in 1979, and Up in 1980), but after neither was able to expand the band's fan base, they were dropped by Capitol.
Starting with the Jai Winding-produced Up, they dropped "Louisiana's" from their name and became simply "LeRoux". At this point they began to move toward a more AOR-friendly sound. In 1981 they signed with RCA and issued their 4th LP, Last Safe Place, which was their highest-charting album. The album spawned three hit Billboard singles in 1982: "Addicted" (#8 Mainstream Rock), "Nobody Said It Was Easy (Lookin' For the Lights)" (#18 Hot 100), and the minor-charting "Last Safe Place On Earth" (#77 Hot 100).
Other changes were in store as Campo and Pollard both quit later that year, with the former returning to school to complete his Master's degree in music and the latter renouncing rock music to enter the Baptist Christian ministry, where he remains today. Fergie Frederiksen and guitarist Jim Odom took over for Pollard on the 5th album, So Fired Up (which was released in February 1983). The album contained the minor-charting "Carrie's Gone" (#79 Hot 100), which Odom and Frederiksen had written after Frederiksen's breakup with actress Carrie Hamilton, Carol Burnett's daughter. The music video for the album's second single "Lifeline" also received MTV rotation, and was covered by Bobby and the Midnites and Uriah Heep. It wasn't enough to keep them from being dropped by RCA, however, and the band called it quits by 1984. Frederiksen then stepped in to replace (former Levee Band member) Bobby Kimball in the band Toto.
In 1985 most of the band (sans Pollard & Frederiksen) got back together to do annual concerts in and around New Orleans with new singer Randy Knapps. Odom and Peters were also part of the group, Network, who recorded the song "Back in America" for the movie European Vacation that came out that same year.
After releasing a greatest hits compilation entitled Bayou Degradable: The Best of Louisiana's LeRoux in 1996, the band decided to play more live shows in the southern U.S. and along the Gulf Coast and have been doing so ever since. By 1997, new members Boo Pourciau (drums, vocals), Nelson Blanchard (keyboards, vocals) and Steve Brewster (percussion) came in to sub for Peters, Roddy and Campo, whenever the increased tour schedule conflicted with their other duties. Campo left the band again soon after and Mark Duthu replaced Brewster in 1997.
In 2000, the newer members appeared alongside Medica, Peters, Roddy and Campo on a new release, Ain't Nothing But a Gris Gris. The CD featured ten tracks - "all written or co-written by members of LeRoux" according to the back cover. The CD was produced by Medica with Odom credited as an Associated Producer.
Knapps left the group at the end of 2005 and Courtney Westbrook was lead singer in 2006 before Terry Brock (formerly of Kansas and Network) took over in 2007. In 2010 Terry was replaced by Keith Landry (ex-Toto) and David Peters was replaced by Randy Carpenter.
After the group's heyday, guitarist Tony Haselden became a Nashville songwriter in the late '80s and penned the country hits "It Ain't Nothin'" for the late Keith Whitley, "That's My Story" for Collin Raye, "Mama Knows" for the group Shenandoah and many others. Bassist and producer Leon Medica resides in Nashville and is in high demand as a studio musician and songwriter.
Members of LeRoux backed up Tab Benoit on his Brother to the Blues and Power of the Ponchartrain CDs, recorded a live DVD and CD in Nashville with Tab in early May 2007, and toured nationwide with him in 2007 and 2008.
LeRoux went back into Dockside Studio in May 2011 to record basic tracks for an upcoming album due for release in early 2012. The project will include such diverse vocalists and musicians as Bobby Kimball, Steve Cropper, Jimmy Hall, and Sonny Landreth.