Stanley Dural, the famed Louisiana accordionist better known as Buckwheat Zydeco, died of lung cancer yesterday Reuters reports. According to a statement from his manager, “He died at 1:32 AM Louisiana time, keeping musician’s hours right to the bitter end.” He was 68.
Born in 1947 in Lafayette, Louisiana, Buckwheat was interested in music from an early age. His father was a traditional Creole accordion player, but Buckwheat chose the organ, playing in several funk and R&B bands before picking up the accordion and returning to his zydeco roots in 1978. After forming his own band and signing to Island Records in 1986, he became zydeco’s biggest star, crossing over to mainstream success with performances at President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations and the closing ceremony of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and shows with Eric Clapton and Lyle Lovett. In 2009, he won a Grammy for his album Lay Your Burden Down.
Buckwheat is survived by his wife, Bernite Dural, and five children: Stanley Paul Dural III, April Germain Dural, Stacie Durham, Tomorrow Lynn Dural, and Sir Reginald M. Dural, who played in his band on rubboard and keyboards.