Pavageau was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He started off his career as a guitarist, and sparked a dance craze in his early years which resulted in his "Slow Drag" nickname. He picked up bass in 1927, when he was 39 years old, and played with Buddy Petit, Herb Morand, and Emile Barnes. He joined George Lewis's band from 1943, and also played in Bunk Johnson's band in New York City in 1945. His tenure with Lewis included several world tours and lasted through the end of the 1950s. In 1961, while playing with the Louis Cottrell Trio, he recorded New Orleans: The Living Legends for the Riverside label. He worked extensively at Preservation Hall in the 1960s, and recorded one album under his own name for Jazz Crusade in 1965 in addition to frequent recording with Lewis.
Some think that the father of Alcide Pavageau was a white man, Prince Lovell Pavageau, the son of Octave Pavageaux and Theresa-Olympia Hernandez (married 1860) who bore the French royal arms as a member of the Hernandez family of Spain. Pavageau himself said that his father's name was Joseph Pavageau. Some called Alcide "Prince Alcide" and Prince Lovell claimed descent from the Valois kings of France based on the similarity between the ancient arms of the Counts and dukes of Valois and the arms borne by the Hernandez family showing the arms of France with a red bordure http://www.4crests.com/hernandez-coat-of-arms.html or otherwise differenced https://www.houseofnames.com/hernandez-family-crest as well as the assertions made of Valois descent in the book "Finding Octave" http://www.findingoctave.com/home.html which documents the shared ancestry of both black and white Pavageau families in New Orleans.
Pavageau was a nephew of renowned New Orleans voodoo queen Marie Laveau. The Pavageau family tomb, including the resting places of his father, mother, sister and brother, is next to Laveau's tomb in New Orleans Cemetery No. 2.
Pavageau's wife, Sister Annie Pavageau, was a pianist and singer.
He died in New Orleans at the age of 88 years.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (2006). Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195313734.
- William Russell, Charlie Devore, Alcide Pavageau (1 September 1957). Hogan Jazz Archive Oral Histories Collection, 1943-2002, Item 11: Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau and Lawrence Marrero, 09-01-1957 (PDF) (Audio recording transcript). Tulane University.
- Rose, Al (1987). I Remember Jazz: Six Decades Among the Great Jazzmen. Baton Rouge and London: LSU Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-8071-2571-7.