Born: Aug. 12, 1940
Died: July 12, 2020, Opelousas, Louisiana
Rod Bernard learned to play the guitar at age eight and had his first radio program around the time he was eleven. He sang Cajun and country songs while strumming his guitar to emulate his musical hero, Hank Williams, Sr. His first band, "The Twisters," played for local functions. Bernard helped to pioneer the musical genre known as "Swamp Pop" with Bobby Charles, Johnnie Allan, Tommy McLain, and Warren Storm.
Bernard's 1958 recording, "This Should Go on Forever," was in the Top 10 and Top 20 charts nationwide. He appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand twice. He performed with numerous other musicians such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Freddie Fender, B.B. King, Kenny Rogers, Jimmy Clanton, Johnnie and Edgar Winter, Mickey Gilley, Dr. John, Brenda Lee, and Brook Benton. His hit records included "Colinda," "Sometimes," "One More Chance," "Forgive," and "Congratulations Darling." A stint in the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp interrupted Bernard's musical career, but after several months he returned to south Louisiana to form The Shondells (not to be confused with Tommy James' group) with fellow swamp pop musicians Warren Storm and Skip Stewart.
Bernard recorded singles for Huey Meaux's Teardrop and Copyright labels and for producer Floyd Soileau. He later returned to his roots by releasing several country and western albums. He also recorded "Boogie in Black and White" with Clifton Chenier, a blend of Cajun and Creole elements, and an album with Fats Domino. In 2003 Bernard recorded his first new album in over two decades, Louisiana Tradition. In June 2006, Bernard re-recorded his spoken-word single "A Tear in the Lady's Eye," which he had initially been written in 1968. Rod last performed in public in 2015 at the Ponderosa Stomp Music Festival in New Orleans. He retired from his career as a radio advertising executive in January 2018 in New Iberia, Louisiana.