Tribute to Eddie Powers on the '50s R&B Show

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Published on: March 28th, 2024

906 Eddie Powers

Eddie Powers
Eddie Powers

In case you missed it! '50s R&B Show host Neil Pellegrin shared a tribute to Eddie Powers on Tuesday night. Hear it now on our 2-week archive at this link.

New Orleans native Eddie Powers' first local smash was a fortuitous one. Earl Stanley and his band, the Stereos, were all set and ready to record at Cosimo Matassa's Governor Nicholls Street studio in the early part of 1964 when the singer who was slated to front the band for the session was a no-show. Amidst the annoyance stirred by the absence of vocalist Whitney Roussell, someone suggested local velvet-voiced crooner Eddie Powers as a last-minute replacement. A call was made to Powers, who rushed down to Cosimo's, quickly learned the tune and laid down his vocals like a seasoned pro, despite this being his first professional recording session. "Gypsy Woman Told Me," a tune composed by Stanley and guitarist Mickey Tardo and released on the Nashville-based Sims Records, became a major hit in the New Orleans area. Local DJ Henry Hines was given partial writing credit also, giving him incentive to spin the disc on his show on popular black station WYLD.

With the success of the record, Powers became the new vocalist for Stanley's Stereos and a lifelong association was born. After a follow-up single recorded in a big-budget Nashville session flopped, Sims soon put Earl Stanley back in charge when it came to Eddie's recordings. Another local mega-hit came with 1965's "A Million Tears Ago," also written by Stanley and Tardo. While under contract with Sims, Eddie moonlighted with New Orleans' Pitassy Records, cutting two sides for them in '64. From these sessions, the Leroy Martin penned and produced "I'll Dream No More" became a local favorite, while a cease and desist letter from Sims abruptly halted its momentum.

Before his recording days, Eddie sang with the Nobles band, a favorite of the New Orleans CYO dance crowd. From 1977 to 2004, he ran Mr. E's po-boy restaurant in the Fat City section of Metairie.

The local hits that Eddie Powers enjoyed in the mid '60s -- "Gypsy Woman Told Me," "A Million Tears Ago" and "I'll Dream No More" -- are just as huge in the hearts and minds of a certain subset of a particular generation of New Orleanians as their contemporary national chart hits by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, James Brown and the Supremes.

The musical partnership of Eddie Powers and Earl Stanley lasted well into the 2000s with their regular appearances at Metairie nightspot Mo's Chalet.

Eddie Powers, who resided in Marrero for the past several years, passed away on March 20 at age 81.

On this week's show, you can catch all 16 of Eddie's 1960s recordings along with some brief clips from a phone chat Neil had with him in May 2023. Click here to hear it through April 8, 2024.

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