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David Bartholomew

David Louis Bartholomew

December 24, 1918 - June 23, 2019
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On Sunday, June 23, 2019, at 9:35 in the morning, the extraordinary life of David Louis ""Dave"" Bartholomew peacefully ebbed to a close at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, LA. At the time of his death, the internationally renowned musician, composer, songwriter, bandleader, producer and arranger had marked the centennial of his birth. This milestone was duly noted with all the fanfare attached to a stellar career that earned him legendary status in the history of New Orleans music and widespread recognition as a primary architect of Rock-and-Roll. He became known as a creative mastermind who brought the signature ""big-beat"" sound of ""The Crescent City"" to the world – including Dixieland Jazz, Big Band and Rhythm-and-Blues. Best known for his successful collaboration with pianist-vocalist Antoine ""Fats"" Domino as co-writer and producer of a string of chart-topping crossover hits, he also amassed numerous credits for his influential work with other artists. While Dave's enduring a musical legacy defines his public persona, he is remembered by those who knew him best as a humble but highly disciplined man who always prioritized his love of God and his family. He gave the best of himself and consistently set a high standard that demanded the best of those around him, from his own children and professional personnel to younger musicians whom he mentored in a caring paternal fashion. Born David Bartholomew, the gifted young legend-to-be arrived on Christmas Eve, 1918, in Edgard, LA - a small farming community on the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish, some forty miles northwest of New Orleans. Later adopting the name David Louis Bartholomew, popularly shortened to ""Dave,"" he was the first child and only son of four children born to Mary Roussell and Louis Bartholomew. His sisters Thelma, Elvera and Louise followed. Throughout the gift of 100 years on this earth, Dave was very devoted to the blended family created through his two marriages. In 1942, he married Pearl King and to this union three children were born: Diane Bartholomew Wilson, Dave Bartholomew Jr., and Jacqueline Bartholomew Temple. Following her death in 1967, Dave married Rhea Douse, who survives him, and brought into the close family fold her children: Alvin LaBeaud, Darrell LaBeaud and Debra LaBeaud Hubbard. Together, Dave and Rhea were parents of Don Bartholomew Sr. and Ron Bartholomew.As they collectively celebrate his life with admirers around the world, the family of Dave Bartholomew remains deeply impacted by the historic roots, epic reach, and singular achievements of his story. Dave grew up on a plantation in Edgard, where he cut sugar cane in arduous sun-up to sundown work. But the drudgery of the fields was relieved by the sound of live music on riverboats passing on the Mississippi and immediately drew him to what would become his life's passion. With a father who played bass horn and tuba in local bands, Dave soon picked up the tuba himself, only to replace it with the trumpet after listening to Louis Armstrong on the radio when the family moved to New Orleans. Fatefully, he later shared Armstrong's music teacher, Peter Davis, who recognized the youngster's raw talent after seeing him in his father's barbershop. Davis agreed to work with him as he had with Louis and Dave began preparation for a career marked by serious musicianship. While he was forced to drop out of Thomy Lafon High School in the ninth grade to help support his mother and three sisters, he retained a lifelong commitment to the value of education. He insisted to all, even the musically inclined, that ""getting that piece of paper"" would ensure other opportunities in a business that was notoriously fickle. By the mid-1930s, however, Dave had no trouble finding work in local jazz and brass bands while still a teenager. He played on riverboats himself with New Orleans notables such as trumpeter Oscar ""Papa"" Celestin and Fats Pichon, whose band he took over in 1941. After a stint with Jimmie Lunceford and following the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he learned to write and arrange music as a member of the 196th Army Ground Forces Band. Returning to the post-war New Orleans music scene, by 1945 he had formed his own dance band, Dave Bartholomew and the Royal Playboys. The group was credited not only as a ""bedrock for local R&B,"" but by one critic as ""the model for early rock 'n' roll bands the world over."" In 1947, he began recording for the DeLuxe label and scored his first national hit in 1950 (""Country Boy"") as Dave Bartholomew and his Orchestra. But it was not until Dave was recruited as the first African American to serve as a New Orleans talent scout for Los Angeles-based Imperial Records that his reputation as a hit-maker began to soar. He scored with production and co-writing credits on ""The Fat Man,"" a million-seller that launched the career of young pianist Fats Domino. The 1950s and early 1960s ushered in more of the team's classics, backed by Dave's band, that have enjoyed enduring popularity: ""Ain't That A Shame,"" ""I'm in Love Again,"" ""Blue Monday,"" ""I'm Walkin'"", ""I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday,"" ""Let the Four Winds Blow,"" ""Blueberry Hill"" and ""Walking to New Orleans."" While Dave's creative partnership with Domino generated a significant part of his discography, he wrote, arranged and produced hits for others on the Imperial roster, including Smiley Lewis (the original artist on ""I Hear You Knocking"" and ""One Night""), as well as music recorded by Chris Kenner, Earl King, Robert Parker, T-Bone Walker, and Frankie Ford. However, few know that Dave also discovered comedian Flip Wilson working in a lounge in Atlanta and brought him back to New Orleans where he recorded his first comedy album for Imperial Records. Always a faithful interpreter of the New Orleans sound, since the late 40s he had become a behind-the-scenes fixture at Cosimo Matassa's fabled J&M Recording Studio, where he shaped some of the city's best known hits. Dave wrote and recorded ""My Ding-a-Ling on King Records, which later became an international novelty hit for Chuck Berry, lent his production mojo to Lloyd Price's classic, ""Lawdy Miss Clawdy"" on Specialty, and Shirley and Lee's staple ""Let the Good Times Roll"" on Aladdin. Many of his songs also found receptive pop audiences through successful recordings by Pat Boone, Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson, among others. As the record industry changed, Dave worked with other companies before establishing his own label, Broadmoor Records, in 1967. Named after his own neighborhood, it folded after losing its original distributor. But Broadmoor later reopened when his sons, Don and Ron's music group, Friends 9, recorded and distributed their first EP regionally. Dave remained active through the 1970s and 1980s as a Dixieland Jazz bandleader and toured around the world with Fats Domino. From the early 80s through the late 90s, he released three albums and was a featured guest leading his big band at music festivals at home and abroad, especially the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Like so many residents of the Crescent City, Dave and his family were uprooted by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He was forced to leave his Pontchartrain Park home and moved to the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Texas, a community where he was warmly received. He remained in Mesquite for some three years before declaring his intention to return and rebuild in New Orleans, the city he loved and wanted to be his final destination. By 2009, he and his wife were able to move into the home where he resided for the past ten years. He continued to share, particularly with younger artists, the invaluable life lessons on discipline and industry-based knowledge that had anchored his success as a man, a father, a musician and a businessman. Not content to rest on the laurels of his illustrious past, in 2011 Dave appeared in his first rap video for a song called ""Born in the Country,"" collaborating with his son and grandson, hip-hop producers Don B and Supa Dezzy. He embraced the newer generation and genres of New Orleans musicians, from Lil Wayne, whose chart-topping stats he could quote, to fellow trumpeter and jazzman James Andrews, Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty, Rebirth Brass Band, Shamarr Allen and Trumpet Black, among others. They looked up to him and he in turn gave them an insider's perspective not only to survive, but to thrive in the music business. He emphasized the importance of publishing and royalties – as one of the first black musicians to understand and reclaim his own over time – as well as the value of the ownership of masters. In his 100 years, Dave Bartholomew lived to see the far-reaching impact of his monumental journey from Edgard up the Mississippi River to New Orleans – and onto an appreciative world stage. His genius was widely credited with influencing the careers of icons as diverse as Little Richard and the late Dr. John. As the recipient of some of the music industry's highest honors, Dave was notably inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, which later dedicated for the first time its American Music Masters Celebration to his creative partnership with Fats Domino. He entered the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2009. Outside the industry, he was honored with accolades for his outstanding contributions to the City of New Orleans, the Catholic Church, and his charitable work in support of many educational and religious institutions, including St. Augustine and Redeemer High Schools, St. Mary's Academy, St. Monica Church and St. Raymond Church, where he was a parishioner prior to joining St. Gabriel the Archangel. A deeply spiritual man, Dave believed that all the blessings God had bestowed on him required that he share his success with others in the most authentic Christian tradition. And that profound generosity of spirit, combined with an unwavering pursuit of excellence, remained a hallmark of his long and fully realized life. Dave was preceded in death by his parents, Mary Roussell and Louis Bartholomew; his sisters, Elvera Ellis and Louise Strickland and first wife, Pearl King Bartholomew. He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Rhea Douse Bartholomew, New Orleans, LA, his sister, Thelma Cooper, San Diego, CA.; his children, Diane Wilson, New Orleans, LA, Dr. Jacqueline Temple, Atlanta, GA, Dave Bartholomew Jr., New Orleans, LA, Alvin LaBeaud Jr., New Orleans, LA, Darrell LaBeaud, New Orleans, LA, Deborah (Darren) Hubbard, New Orleans, LA, Don Bartholomew Sr., New Orleans, LA and Ron (Kimberly) Bartholomew, Tampa, FL. He is also survived by 25 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, numerous relatives, extended family and friends across the nation. A Mass of Christian Burial honoring the life of Mr. David Louis ""Dave"" Bartholomew will be celebrated at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church, 4700 Pineda Street , New Orleans, LA 70126 on Monday, July 8, 2019 at 12 noon, Rev R. Tony Ricard, M.Th.,M. Div., Celebrant. Interment PRIVATE. Visitation 9 AM IN THE CHURCH. The family gratefully requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions in Dave Bartholomew's memory be made to Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (866)891-2210.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    July 8, 2019 | 9:00am - 12:00pm
    July 8, 2019 9:00am - 12:00pm
    St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church
    4700 Pineda Street
    NEW ORLEANS, LA 70126
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    July 8, 2019 | 12:00pm
    July 8, 2019 12:00pm
    St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church
    4700 Pineda Street
    NEW ORLEANS, LA 70126
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment



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Zolly Tabb

Posted at 12:22pm
Many condolences from many like me who never knew Mr Bartholomew, but loved his music, without knowing at first where it came from. He was a larger part of our youth than we ever could really understand. Rest in peace and thank you!

Lindsay Shannon

Posted at 12:04pm
To the family of Dave Bartholomew: My sympathy to the extended family, with joy for Mr. Bartholomew's well spent life. I have been a fan of Mr. Bartholomew's music since high school(1959 graduate) through the records of Fats Domino. Through the years since, coming to Jazz Fest becoming aware of his contribution to the sound of New Orleans, collecting some of his recordings and sharing his music with Kansas City music fans via a radio show I have hosted since the 1970's(KCUR FM and KCFX FM). On Sunday June 30 the songs 'Blue Monday' and 'I'm Walking' aired as well as 'Country Girl', with more to come over the next few weeks. Paying tribute to a musician, bandleader, composer, arranger and record producer, Dave Bartholomew. Thank You, Lindsay Shannon KCFX FM 101.1 home of the Kansas City Blues Show, classic rock and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Joel J Wallace Sr.

Posted at 06:18pm
I am the only living son of Johnny and Phalba Wallace, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. When I was younger I remember Dad and Mom taking our family 3 boy and 2 girls to Uncle Dave home. He was and always been a loving and caring person in our lives. Mom and Dad are gone along with my two brothers. But I will remember the memory of Uncle Dave forever. Rest In Peace Uncle. Joel Wallace and family Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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