Pavageau was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He started off his career as a dancer, mastering a dance called the "Slow Drag" which resulted in his nickname. He learned the guitar as a young man from his cousin Ulysses Picou, a singer in New Orleans. Pavageau came from a musical family and was related to other famous musical families like the Tios, Picous and Pirons who were responsible for forming some of the earliest known jazz bands. He played with numerous legends of jazz including Buddy Petit, Bunk Johnson, and Herb Morand. Johnson later bragged that he taught Louis Armstrong how to play cornet by ear. He picked up bass in 1927, when he was 39 years old, and 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.
Alcide Pavageau was the son of Ferreol "Joseph" Pavageau and Alice Philippe. He was the descendant of a marriage between two of the oldest Creole families in New Orleans. His family trace their roots back to wealthy French planters who were displaced by the Haitian Revolution and friends of Bienville the founder of New Orleans. For almost 40 years he was the Grand Marshal of the Second Line of the Mardi Gras Parade. The second line is known for twirling ornamental umbrellas during their gatherings. The twirling of umbrellas may have been adapted from the early Italian immigrant custom of using umbrellas at funeral processions. Alcide died in 1969 in New Orleans at the age of 80.
Although rumors abound about Alcide Pavageau being a nephew of renowned New Orleans voodoo queen Marie Laveau this is not true. The Pavageau family tomb, including the resting places of his father, mother, sister and brother and aunts, is in New Orleans Cemetery No. 2 while Marie Laveau's tomb is in New Orleans Cemetery No.1 .
Pavageau's wife, Sister Annie Pavageau, was a pianist and singer. Many Pavageaus and their descendants continue to live in and around New Orleans today.
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With George Lewis
- George Lewis & Turk Murphy at Newport (Verve, 1957)
- 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.
- Nick Douglas (2013). Finding Octave: The Untold Story of Two Creole Families and Slavery in Louisiana. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1493522086.
- Cite error: The named reference
Catholic_Archdiocese_of_New_Orleanswas invoked but never defined (see the help page).