Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman remembera a musical legend who died mysteriously at the age of 28.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll remember a musical legend who died mysteriously at the age of 28.
Cajun musician Harry Choates was born in Vermillion Parish, La., on Dec. 26, 1922. As a child, he moved with his family to Port Arthur, Texas, where he played guitar, fiddle and accordion in local bars. In 1946, Choates recorded an old Cajun waltz called “Jole Blon” for Houston-based Gold Star Records. “Jole Blon” became a regional hit and was soon performed by country dance bands throughout Texas and Louisiana. Despite his fame, Choates struggled with poverty and alcoholism. In 1951, he was jailed in Austin for not paying child support. After being locked up for three days without alcohol, Choates beat his head against the cell door until he fell into a coma and died, although some fans were convinced that jailers killed him.