Tony Joe White
Born: July 23, 1943 in Oak Grove, La.
Died: October 24, 2018 in Nashville, TN
One of seven children, Tony Joe White was raised on a cotton farm near the small town of Oak Grove, Louisiana. When he was sixteen, his older brother Charles brought home a Lightnin’ Hopkins album and began demonstrating blues guitar. White listened not only to local bluesmen and country singers but also to the Cajun music of Louisiana. After graduation from high school, he played at nightclubs in Louisiana and Texas.
White formed his first band, ‘Tony White & His Combo’, with Robert McGuffey and Jim Griffith, followed by ‘Tony Joe and the Mojos’ and ‘Tony’s Twilights.’ He worked in the small nightclubs of the south for seven years before deciding to go solo, writing and singing his own material. After the success of “Polk Salad Annie” in 1969, White toured with some of the biggest rock acts of the 1970s including Credence Clearwater Revival. “Polk Salad Annie” was recorded by a number of other artists, including Elvis. White built a reputation in the U.S. as a consummate songwriter and arranger. In France, his music became very popular and was referred to as “Swamp Rock”. White himself was known as the ‘Swamp Fox’.
In 1991, White recorded his first album in many years. “Closer to the Truth” charted all over Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, sparking an extensive European tour where he opened for such greats as Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton. White has also written and performed jingles for McDonald’s and Levi’s 501 Blues. He continues to write and arrange for himself and others.
His song “Rainy Night in Georgia” has been covered by many artists including Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Hank Williams, Jr.