Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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(b before 1900, l'Anse Rougeau LA; d Pineville LA) Name also spelled Amadé or Amadie. A Cajun accordionist and vocalist, cited by Nathan Abshire, Clifton Chenier, Leo Soileau, Iry LeJune and Austin Pitre as a major influence; his importance to the genre is like that of Robert Johnson in the blues and as with Johnson, details of his life are scarce; most of what we know comes from the memory of fiddler Dennis McGee, who worked with him from 1921. Legend has it that he accepted a handerchief from a white girl at a dance in the mid-1930s with which to wipe his brow, and that the girl's father followed him away and beat him nearly to death. He never recorded again and is said to have died in the state mental hospital at Pineville at age 43, yet the Louisiana State Bureau of Vital Statistics has no record of his birth or death: his memorial is his body of work.

His colour was evidently no hindrance to entertaining white audiences; he was a gifted musician, adept at spontaneously improvising songs and lyrics, very much with a blues heart yet in the Cajun idiom, drawing on African songs and hollers as well as traditional Acadian and Old French material. He and McGee were popular around Eunice, recorded independently and together late '20s/early '30s; pieces from Ardoin's repertoire include 'Eunice Two-Step', 'La Valse à Abe', 'Les Blues de la Prison', 'Madame Etienne' have become standards. He recorded six sides for Columbia in 1929, ten for Brunswick in 1930, six for Bluebird in 1934, and 12 for Decca in 1934; the 1934 tracks are the only ones that do not include McGee. Compilations include Amadé Ardoin/Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 6 on Old Timey; anthology The Early Recordings Of Dennis McGee on Morning Star including some Ardoin accompaniment; also I'm Never Comin' Back on Folklyric CD has tracks with McGee. Amédé Ardoin: The Roots of Zydeco '95 on Arhoolie included 26 tracks. Finally, a 2-CD set on a Tompkins Square label, Mama, I'll Be Long Gone: The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin, 1929-1934 was reviewed in the journal of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (Vol. 43 No. 2, Fall 2012).