Henry Roeland Byrd, Better known as Professor Longhair (or nickname "Fess"), was born in Bogalusa and moved to New Orleans with his family as an infant. The "Big Chief", the "Spy Boy", the "Flag Boy" and several other roles or offices are important to the Mardi Gras Indian tradition of "masking" (parading through the street in full costume).  Longhair originally wanted to record the song with a small ensemble, but Quezergue, King, and Smokey Johnson (who also played on the session) convinced him to include an eleven- or fifteen-piece horn ensemble on the 1964 recording. ), King wrote the song while attending school, and recalled the tune during a recording session with Longhair arranged by Wardell Quezergue.  According to tradition, the African Americans in New Orleans who first formed "Indian gangs" did so as a tribute to the Native American tribes in the area who took in runaway slaves in the pre-Civil War era. The procession begins with "spyboys," dressed in light "running suits" that allow them the freedom to move quickly in case of emergency. John. These characters are mentioned in Earl King's song, as well as many other songs which have come out of New Orleans. The "Indian Nation" of Mardi Gras Indian "gangs" in New Orleans includes the Wild Magnolias, the Golden Eagles, and several others. With a microscopically accurate second-line beat, boogie-woogie piano New Orleans style, semi-nonsensical lyrics, and loads of thick funk on top, this sums up the bohemian essence of the celebration. Mardi Gras Indian gangs have existed since the early 20th Century. He co-wrote the song with Theresa Terry. A version recorded in November 1949 and produced by Ahmet Ertugun and Herb Abramson was released as a 10" by Professor Longhair and his New Orleans Boys on Atlantic in February 1950. While the title might lead you to assume that this is a zydeco compilation, Big Chief's Mardi Gras Dance Party is actually a DJ mix album put together by the Big Chief of the title. July 1 2018. share share What do you do when you’re waiting for a parade? My Indian Red by Dr. John Traditionally sung at the beginning and end of a Mardi Gras Indian gather, it is a chant about how the tribe will never bow down to an adversary. , The song's lyrics advise anyone wishing to visit New Orleans to go to the Mardi Gras celebration and witness its various sights, such as to "see the Zulu King on Saint Claude and Dumaine. , The song was first released as Mardi Gras in New Orleans by Professor Longhair and His Shuffling Hungarians in 1949 on a Star Talent 10" 78 RPM single. These characters are mentioned in Earl King's song, as well as many other songs which have come out of New Orleans. John. It became a hit in New Orleans for Professor Longhair in 1964, featuring a whistled first chorus in a rollicking blues piano style and subsequent lyrics written in mock-American-Indian pidgin (whistled and sung by King, uncredited). Finally, there is the "Big Chief." "Go to the Mardi Gras" or "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" is a New Orleans Mardi Gras-themed R&B song that was performed by Professor Longhair (real name Henry Roland Byrd) and recorded several times since 1949.  It is now considered an iconic festive song of the New Orleans Carnival season.  He was a pivotal link between early New Orleans piano pioneers such as Tuts Washington and later names such as Fats Domino, Art Neville, Allen Toussaint and Dr. It is now considered an iconic festive song of the New Orleans Carnival season. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Big_Chief&oldid=969147334, Articles with unsourced statements from September 2011, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 23 July 2020, at 17:33.  He would keep time by kicking his foot against the piano's base. Many blocks ahead of the Indians are plain clothed informants keeping an eye out for any danger. The "Big Chief" decides where to go a… .  It featured Mac Rebennack on guitar, long before he became known as Dr. The song was covered by Fats Domino and released as a single in 1953. , The song refers to Mardi Gras Indian groups; an important part of the African American Mardi Gras tradition. , The song was also re-recorded in 1971 and released in 1991 on the album Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge. Here are six of our favorites (we tried to narrow it down to five but couldn’t do it). The song also appeared on numerous compilation albums, including The Devil's Music - Keith Richards' personal compilation of Blues, Soul and R&B Classics. The Meters, "Hey Pocky A-Way" The strongest of several Mardi Gras classics by these masters of funk during their mid-'70s period. Most of the ones I know are the popular ones...Tipitia, Big Chief, Iko Iko, Hey Pocky Way, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Hey Now Baby.. " In 1959, at time of the recording, the Zulu parade, hosted by the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, took an improvised route each year on the day of Mardi Gras, which would often pass this street intersection. The "Big Chief", the "Spy Boy", the "Flag Boy" and several other roles or offices are important to the Mardi Gras Indian tradition of "masking" (parading through the street in full costume). The Mardi Gras Indians play various traditional roles. Dr. John's "Let the Good Times Roll" is a great Mardi Gras song. , In 1959, Byrd re-recorded the song as Go to the Mardi Gras, which was produced by Joe Ruffino and released in December as a 7" and 10" on Ruffino's label, Ron Records. Check them out on the YouTube links provided.  His 1950 single "Bald Head" hit No.  He reportedly learned to play his instrument on a piano lacking several keys, which some have credited for his unusual technique.  He developed a unique "rhumba boogie" style that combined elements of blues, barrelhouse, and Caribbean influences. Next comes the "first flag," an ornately dressed Indian carrying a token tribe flag. 5 on the R&B charts, and became his only national hit.  A third 1949 recording of the song has also been released. Closest to the "Big Chief" is the "Wildman" who usually carries a symbolic weapon. (Even though it was not a national hit, the single was available for years in the New Orleans area, especially during Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras Indians wear elaborate, hand made costumes which feature massive feather headdresses and intricate bead work.  "Go to the Mardi Gras," along with a later record "Big Chief," released in 1964, has become an iconic standard of the Carnival season. He co-wrote the song with Theresa Terry. Numerous live recordings of the song have also been released. I like his take on "Junco Partner". , "Fats Domino - Mardi Gras in New Orleans", "Professor Longhair: The Times-Picayune covers 175 years of New Orleans History", "Professor Longhair 78 RPM - Discography - USA - 78 RPM", "Professor Longhair - the Chronological Professor Longhair: 1949", "Professor Longhair – Go To The Mardi Gras / Everyday, Everynight", "Professor Longhair - Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge", "Professor Longhair - Rock 'N' Roll Gumbo", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Go_to_the_Mardi_Gras&oldid=985936814, Pages using infobox song with unknown parameters, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 1949 "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" b/w "Professor Longhair's Boogie" (Star Talent 808) 10", 02-1950 "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" b/w "She Walks Right In" (Atlantic 879) 10", 12-1959 "Go to the Mardi Gras" b/w "Everyday Everynight" (Ron 329) 7"/10", 1985 "Rock 'n' Roll Gumbo" (Dancing Cat Records) lp/cd, 1991 "Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge" (Rhino Records/Bearsville) cd, This page was last edited on 28 October 2020, at 20:52. Top Six Mardi Gras Songs of All Time . Each gang performs its own original songs and dances on Mardi Gras Day, on "Super Sunday" (the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day) and at other functions in the community. "Go to the Mardi Gras" or "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" is a New Orleans Mardi Gras-themed R&B song that was performed by Professor Longhair (real name Henry Roland Byrd) and recorded several times since 1949. The tune became popular in New Orleans, frequently performed by local musicians such as Dr. John, and is now a staple of the repertory of most brass bands and musicians in the area.