This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll honor a man who helped blend Texas and Louisiana music into a sound that became popular around the world.
Clifton Chenier, often called the “king” of zydeco, was born a black creole in Opelousas, Louisiana, on June 25, 1925. Chenier learned to play the accordion from his father and often was accompanied on washboard by his brother, Cleveland. As they traveled the night club circuit between Texas and Louisiana during the early 1940s, the Chenier brothers combined the French creole music of their ancestors with the blues and R&B that were gaining popularity among younger black audiences.
By 1947, Clifton had relocated to the Houston area, where he and other French-speaking blacks made the first known recordings of zydeco music. For the next four decades, Clifton Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band made their home in Houston while they toured throughout the world, helping popularize the unique sound of zydeco.