I attended the funeral of Bobby Charles, who was Robert Charles Guidry to legal record and Bobby Charles Guidry to his community. Wednesday afternoon at three o’clock in the afternoon in a fairly full church the Roman Catholic “Mass of Christian Burial” was celebrated for Bobby Charles. St. Mary Magdalen Church in Abbeville, Louisiana has just been renovated and it looks great. Bobby Charles was a big deal around here but not in a splashy way. He was a big deal in a lot of the world without ever achieving that mega star status held by so many in Los Angeles, California and New York. Here is a link to a summary of his reputation in the United Kingdom, Wikipedia is really pretty solid on this as on most things http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Charles …
Bobby Charles died last week. When I used to give friends and associates from around the world a tour of the area with a bit of a historical and current events background I often mentioned Bobby Charles the Swamp Pop Pioneer who wrote “See Ya Later Alligator” and had it covered by Bill Haley and the Comets. He wrote “Walking to New Orleans” and Fats Domino made that a hit. Before his funeral some musician friends played a lesser known and more spiritual song he wrote called “I Believe in Angels”. The church was full of musicians, writers, artists and craftsfolk but mostly people from Louisiana or at least the Gulf Coast. Many of them were like him people who have had moments of national and international fame but in the context of a long regional career of not such bright footlights and modest crowds.
My mother and I sat together. She went to high school with Bobby Charles and I worked with his son Bobby Jr. for about fourteen hours a day in making the movie “The Blob” in a square just near the church from which he was remembered and his ashes blessed to be buried. We got to know each other pretty well but have not seen each other since that January and February of 1988 despite both living a good number of those years in the same close-knit Acadiana area. I did not find my old pal at the funeral but later saw him on local television.
In a small place like this our artists seem so irreplaceable. That is because they are. Bye Bobby Charles!