Jivin' Gene Bourgeois
Born: February 9, 1940, in Port Arthur, Texas
"Jivin' Gene" Bourgeois was 15 when he taught himself to play the guitar. With his friends John Piggot, Jimmy Fowler, and Butch Landry, he played tunes by Chuck Berry and other black artists they admired. At 17, Gene started playing with a group called The Saints. When Huey Meaux became his manager, it was Meaux who nicknamed him "Jivin' Gene," and the group became known as Jivin' Gene and the Jokers.
Gene recorded from the radio station KPAC for the Jin label. "Going Out With the Tide" and "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" were hits. He toured and was on various radio shows, including the Alan Freed Show, but the Payola scandal of the early 60s cast a pall over the music industry. Agents and music "sharks" were giving special favors to disc jockeys for playing particular songs. When this was revealed, the scandal hurt up-and-coming stars like Gene.
This "Child of Rhythm and Blues," who is considered a pioneer in the field of "Swamp Rock," stopped playing until the 1980s. He worked on the Alaska Pipeline during the 1970s. For many years, he worked construction through Insulars Local No. 22, along with fellow musician John Piggot. When Piggot asked him to play at some dances, Bourgeois returned to music and soon after recorded an album appropriately titled "It's Never Too Late."
He still performs and is sometimes seen at Larry's French Market in Groves and Antone's in Austin.