R&B guitarist Snooks Eaglin dies

Snooks Eaglin (sitting), a legend of New Orleans blues
Snooks Eaglin (sitting), a legend of New Orleans blues

R&B singer and guitarist Ford 'Snooks' Eaglin, a legend on the New Orleans music scene, died 18 February. He was 72.

The blind guitarist died of a heart attack at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans after falling ill and being hospitalised last week, said John Blancher, a close family friend. Eaglin was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, said Blancher.

Eaglin was known for unique style of picking strings with his thumbnail and fingers. He played and recorded with a host of New Orleans luminaries, including Professor Longhair, the Wild Magnolias and pianist Allan Toussaint.

"The variety of his repertoire was absolutely amazing" Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant and Bonnie Raitt were all fans. Clapton covered Eaglin's Alberta on his MTV Unplugged album. "Snooks Eaglin's Street Singer album was an important part of my record collection," Clapton later recalled.

Influence on Eric Clapton

"He was a great, great player and singer who recorded on the streets of New Orleans. The variety of his repertoire was absolutely amazing, but that song Alberta was accessible to me as a beginning guitar player, because it consists of three chords and just straight strumming. It just lodged in my head as a very sentimental song, and part of my early influences."

Pianist Allan Toussaint was in a band with Eaglin, The Flamingos, when they were just 13.

"He played with a certain finger-style that was highly unusual," Toussaint remembered. "He was unlimited on the guitar. Folks would assume; I can do this or I can do that,' but Snooks wouldn't. There was nothing he couldn't do. It was extraordinary."

Watch Snooks Eaglin play Talk To Your Daughter: