It has proved difficult to find something on Happy Fats Leroy LeBlanc, although he has been a very popular figure in Louisiana during an half-century. Below is a biography published on the net by All Music (Jason Ankeny).happy fats pic Little did Gilbert and Carrie LeBlanc know, when their baby boy was born on January 30, 1915, that their cheerfully named child would become one of Louisiana’s most recognized Cajun musicians. The music of Happy Fats remains instrumental in both of the preservation and celebration of his native Cajun culture, despite the damage inflicted by a series of race-baiting protest records cut at the peak of the civil rights movement. Born Leroy LeBlanc in Rayne, Acadia Parish, LA, on January 30, 1915, Fats was a self-taught musician who began his professional career at 17 when he began playing accordion in Cajun hillbilly bands led by Amédé Breaux and Joe Falcon. In 1935, he formed his own group, the Rayne-Bo Ramblers, which starred the talents of Eric Arceneaux among others. And regularly headlined the local OST Club. Fats signed to RCA Victor in doc guidry & happy fats1936. In 1937, he played alongside Doc Guidry, and Uncle Ambrose Thibodeaux. Other associates were Luderin Darbonne, Pee Wee Broussard, Doc Guidry, « Papa Cairo » Lamperez, Rex Champagne, and Crawford J. Vincent. He was invited and spoke on many radio stations including: KANE, KEUN, KUOH, KROF, and others. In 1940 he scored his first significant hit, « La Veuve de la Coulee » which featured then-unknown fiddler Harry Choates. The Rayne-Bo Ramblers also served as a springboard for Cajun accordion legend Nathan Abshire in 1935 (« La valse de Riceville« ). Other popular Fats recordings include the traditional « Allons dance Colinda, » « La Vieux de Accordion, » and « Mon Bon Vieux Mari. » Few of his efforts earned national attention, but within south Louisiana he was a superstar, and in the early ’50s even hosted a weekday morning radio show on Lafayette station KVOL. In 1966, however, Fats was the subject of national controversy when he signed to producer Jay D. Miller’s segregationist Reb Rebel label to record the underground smash « Dear Mr. President, » a spoken word condemnation of Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights policies that sold over 200,000 copies despite its appalling racism. « We didn’t have any problems with that, not at all, » Fats maintained in an interview. « There wasn’t anything violent about it — it was just a joke. I had a car of black people run me down on the highway one time coming in Lafayette, and they said, ‘Are you the fellow that made  » Dear Mr. President »?’ I said I was, and they said, ‘We’d like to buy some records.’ They bought about 15 records. There was a big van full of black people and they loved it . . . Either side at that time, they didn’t want integration very much. They wanted to go each their own way. » The commercial success of « Dear Mr. President » launched a series of similarly poisonous Fats efforts including « Birthday Thank You (Tommy from Viet Nam), » « A Victim of the Big Mess (Called the Great Society), » « The Story of the Po’ Folks and the New Dealers, » and « Vote Wallace » in ’72. » After a long battle with diabetes, Fats died on February 23, 1988.   An appreciation on Happy Fats’ music (by Bopping editor)

The Rayne-Bo Ramblers made more Western swing than Cajun music, although many songs were sung in French, for example their greatest claim to fame, « Les veuves de la coulee » (1940), still resumed today (Dewey Balfa, yesterday). Happy Fats’ backing group also included excellent fiddlers : most of the time the respected Oran « Doc » Guidry (born 1918), and for a long 1940 session in Dallas, the now famous Harry Choates (who even handles the vocal duties on « Les tete fille Lafayette »). Other alumni in the Rayne-Bo Ramblers were also Julius « Papa Cairo » Lamperez on steel ; he would later go solo in the late ’40s. Deeply influenced by nearby Texan Western swing bands (like Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys, of course), Leblanc made frequent encouraging interjections to his musicians, either in French or in English. His music is living, and it is difficult to choose one track from the rest. So here are more or less his best sides from 1935 (Nathan Abshire, backed by the Rayne-Bo Ramblers) to 1952 (the Bella sides). I added some songs from the early ’60s by Fats and Doc Guidry alone. Let’s begin with the very first tune cut by the Rayne-Bo Ramblers in 1935, « Rayne Breakdown ». It is Western swing music indeed, with a Cajun feel. Norris Savoy on the fiddle is well to the fore ; a powerful track. « Rayne breakdown »

download Nathan Abshire & Rayne-Bo Ramblers « La valse de Riceville »  »

download   « La reponse de blus de Bosco » [sic] comes next, from 1938. Three guys named « Guidry » are in the band : Oran « Doc » on fiddle, Nathan on bass, and Ray on banjo. Happy Fats Leroy takes the vocal. bb-2088-A la reponse bb 8105-A give my baby my old guitar                 From the same year, « Give my baby my old guitar ». Again the three Guidry, plus steel and piano (missing music link)           We jump to the great February 1940 Dallas session. Which saw – a sign of Happy Fats’ popularity and good record sales – 10 tracks recorded. Among them, « O.S.T. gal », with great Western swing feel, was named after the club where Fats and the boys often played. Harry Choates‘ driving style is heard throughout, as well in « The old ice man » or « Gran prairie » (all sung by Happy Fats, who plays bass on this session). Let’s add the instrumental « Lake Charles shuffle », « Les tete fille Lafayette » (sung in unisson by the band), and, most of all, « Le veuve de la coulee » (Bluebird 2081), which sold extremely well, and is still a Cajun classic with its amusing lyrics : « Chez les veuves de la Coulée (The Coulee’s widows) Est parti au village (are gone to the village) Pour acheter des p’tits cotons jaunes à la boutique (to buy small yellow cottons at the shop) www.cajunlyrics.com Pour faire des p’tite mimines (to make small gloves) Pour les belles p’tites filles (for beautiful little girls) Pour les belles p’tites filles aller au bal chez Joe (to go dancing at Joe’s) »   « O.S.T. gal »

download « Gran prairie »

download « Lake Charles shuffle »

download « Le veuve de la coulee »

download « Les tete fille  Lafayette »

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BB2081 happy fats - gran prairie

Happy_Fats_BB2081_B veuve

courtesy Univ. of La.(thanks, Sandy Hume)l

happy fats 1940

 

 

 

 

8 more tracks were cut in October 1941 in Dallas, this time with Ambrose Thibodeaux on fiddle, and Julius « Papa Cairo » Lamperez on steel. We retain the final tune, « If I ever leave the south » (Bluebird 8928). « If I ever leave the south »

download BB8928 If I ever leave the south

 

 

BB 17-5-47 cajun boogie

Billboard May 17, 1947

From then on – no doubt because the members were drafted for service – we find Happy Fats again not before 1946, for « Cajun boogie » (instrumental) and a resume of « La veuve », as « Les veuve a kita la coulee » on RCA-Victor. « Cajun boogie »

download « Les veuve a kita la coulee »

download rca 20-2200-A cajun boogie rca 20-2035-B les veuve a kita la coulee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two years later, the boys (not anymore the Rayne-Bo Ramblers) were on Jay D. Miller’s Feature and Fais-Do-Do labels in Crowley, La. They had here «Allons dance Colinda » (sung by Doc Guidry) or « La valse de Hadacol» (Feature 1020), as « Happy & the Doctor and the Hadacol Boys ». It’s hard to imagine now the vast popularity of this stimulating drink launched by politician Dudley LeBlanc (no relation apparently). Hadacol was a patent medicine marketed as a supplement (called « vitamin »). Its principal attraction, however, was that it contained 12 percent alcohol (listed on the tonic bottle’s label as a « preservative » !), which made it quite popular in the southern dry counties. Bill Nettles had « Hadacol boogie » (a hit in 1949 on Mercury). Even Little Willie Littlefield cut hisHadacol version (« Drinkin’ hadacol » for Federal in Los Angeles. The Hadacol empire collapsed shorty afterwards due to a F.B.I. investigation. Jerry Lee Lewis has recently played live (although never recorded) « Hadacol boogie », proof of the popularity of the drink. Here are the Happy Fats Leblanc’s lyrics to « La valse de Hadacol » :   La Valse de Hadacol Mon ‘tit garçon a plus des crises, (my baby boy doesn’t get in more tantrums) Ma vieille a plus des rhumatismes;(my old lady isn’t anymore rheumatic) Sont plus malades at all at all,(they are not at all sick) Depuis ils ont pris le Hadacol.(since they took Hadacol) Sois garanti, tu prends quelques doses,(be sure, you take some doses) Tes yeux sont claires, tes joues sont roses;(clear eyes, pink cheeks) Prends quelques bouteilles et je te promets,(take some bottles and I promise) Tu vas jongler pour courtiser.(you are going juggling to court) www.cajunlyrics.com J’ai fait serment dessus la Bible,(I took an oath on the Bible) Me sentir mieux, c’est pas possible!(to feel better it’s impossible) Moi qui te dis j’peux remercier,(So I say I can give thanks) Le Hadacol à Nonc Dudley.(to Hadacol of Uncle Dudley)

On Feature, I am pretty sure that Bill Hutto had Happy Fats and his Boys as backing band (« the Sons of the South»), as Doc Guidry is present as fiddler for « If you think you got troubles » (Feature 1027).

fais-do-do 1001B allons danse colinda

feature 1020A la valse de hadacol

« Allons dance Colinda »

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« La valse de Hadacol »

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doc guidry

Doc Guidry and son

feature 1027-B bill hutto - if you think you got troubles

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1949, Happy Fats cut a good amount of sides for New Jersey’s Deluxe label, the majority going unissued. I’ve chosen « Happy birthday » with Fats on vocal and Doc Guidry on fiddle. The Ramblers are from now on simply « The boys ».   Finally (for the ’40s-’50s) in 1952, Happy Fats had two issues on Bella records, a Los Angeles concern. First as « Happy Fats  and the Boys : « Bayou man » and « Sugar cane festival » are slow and mid-paced ditties (Bella 2), while « Last night I dreamed of you again » (Bella 6) was sung (a gentle well-done ballad) by a very young Al Terry (born cajun Allison Theriot) – probably his first ever record. Reverse side was « Bayou Lafourche », a nice mid-paced Cajun song with Happy Fats on vocal, as « The Bayou Buckaroo ». And that was it. Leroy Leblanc was to enter again in a recording studio in 1961, for a revamp of his « Les veuves de la coulee » on Swallow records. In 1966, he cut for Rebel reb label the famous segregationnist songs you surely know of, as Johnny Reb.   Enclosed are two songs by Doc Guidry from 1966 (La Louisianne label origin) : the traditional « Boil dem cabbages down ». Meantime he had in 1953 recorded in Nashville a short session for Decca : « Chere cherie » , he was to recut in 1966.T

« Happy birthday »

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« Bayou Lafourche »

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« Les veuves de la coulee (1961) »

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Doc Guidry « Chere cherie (1966) »

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flyright LP

(UK) Flyright album

This research was done with a considerable amount of work. Many sources (e.g. Wikipedia, All music, Youtube) were used, but the main help came, as usual, from Ronald Keppner out of Germany. Thanks, Ronald for the care taken at scanning and loaning old and rare 78rpm records.  Also special thanks to Sandy Himel, of the University of Louisiana . Additional help from Wade Falcon.www.cajunlyrics.com

 

Bella 6 Happy Fats Last night I dreamed of you againA

DeLuxe 5066AA Happy Fats Happy birthday

 

bella 2 happy fats - bayou man

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dewey Balfa & Allie Young « Les veuves de la coulee »

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Happy,Doc & the Boys « Fais Do-do breakdown »

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dog guidry LP

La Louisiane album (1966)