J. B. Fuselier

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Jean Batiste Fuselier
J. B. Fuselier playing violin with his Merrymakers (not shown).
J. B. Fuselier playing violin.
Background information
Birth name Jean Batiste Fuselier
Born (1901-04-17)April 17, 1901
Oberlin, Louisiana[1]
Died August 13, 1975(1975-08-13) (aged 74)
Genres Cajun
Occupation(s) Musician, fiddler, accordionist
Instruments Fiddle, Cajun accordion
Associated acts J.B. and His Merrymakers
For the Louisiana sheriff, see Charles Fuselier.

Jean Batiste "J.B." Fuselier[2] (April 17, 1901 – August 13, 1975)[3] was a Cajun musician most remembered for his tune "Ma Chere Bassette".[4] He played for many years with the group J. B. and His Merrymakers.

Early life[edit]

Fuselier began playing the fiddle when he was five. In a 1937 interview, he claimed that when he started violin, he was too small to pick it up to play.[5] He had to lie on the bed. He also started playing the accordion at a very young age. At the age of nine, he played his first dance.[2]

String band era[edit]

In the 1930s, he recorded many records with Victor Records under the banjoist Beethoven Miller's Merrymakers.[4] After Miller left the group in early 1938,[6] Fuselier changed the name to J.B. and His Merrymakers. The group was very successful, drawing large crowds at the Step Inn Club in Lawtell and Fais Do Do in Ville Platte.[2]

After World War II[edit]

It was around the end of the war that he met Iry LeJeune.[7] He began playing with Iry Lejeune and the Calcasieu Playboys after he moved to Lake Charles. They played together regularly until 1955 when Lejeune died. Fuselier was driving from the Green Wing Club in Eunice, when he tire puntured. While changing the tire, a car hit Fuselier's car. Fuselier suffered many injuries as well. His daughter remembers his lung was collapsed and he had many broken bones; others mention a head injury.[8][9] He continued playing with his Merrymakers which consisted of Norris Courville on drums, Desbra Fontenot on steel guitar and Preston Manuel on guitar.[8]

Legacy[edit]

Fuselier played for almost his entire life, until his death in 1976. Many other musicians have covered his songs and they are now a part of standard Cajun repertoire. His three most famous songs are "Ma chère Bassette", "Jongle à Moi" and "Chère Tout-Toute". Written for his daughter, he is the first to record "Chère Tout-Toute" which would be re-recorded by many local artists.[1] He never learned to use four fingers when playing the violin. He is quoted as saying, "All that money I made, I made it with three fingers."[5] He is also credited with being the first person to incorporate the steel guitar into Cajun music by hiring Atlas Frugé to play in his band.[5][10]

Family[edit]

Fuselier had one daughter named Myrtle "Tout-Toute" Berglund.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Threatt, Patricia A; Garner, Jennifer; Guillory, Miguele. "Southwest Louisiana Musicians Encyclopedia". Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Savoy 1984, p. 142.
  3. ^ "The Dead Rock Stars Club – The 1970s". Retrieved April 29, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Broven 1983, p. 54.
  5. ^ a b c Yule 2009, p. 124.
  6. ^ Brasseaux 2009, p.153.
  7. ^ Yule 2009, p. 128.
  8. ^ a b Savoy 1984, p. 143.
  9. ^ Yule 2009, p. 129.
  10. ^ Savoy 1984, p. 145.

Further reading[edit]

  • Savoy, Ann (1986) [1984]. Cajun Music a Reflection of a People. Eunice, Louisiana: Bluebird Press. ISBN 978-0-930169-00-8. 
  • Broven, John (June 30, 1983). South To Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous. Pelican Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88289-608-3. 
  • Yule, Ron (October 5, 2009). Louisiana Fiddlers. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-60473-295-5. 
  • Brasseaux, Ryan (June 4, 2009). Cajun breakdown: the emergence of an American-made music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-534306-9.