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Tony Joe White

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Tony Joe White


There's a photograph of Tony Joe White floating about the Internet. He's smoking while strolling through a bayou jungle bare-chested, a guitar slung over his shoulder and black leather pants suctioned to his legs. He looks a lot like Elvis during his '68 comeback special, only cooler. A child of Louisiana with Cherokee blood flowing through his veins, White helped invent swamp rock in the late '60s with hits like "Polk Salad Annie," a murky fusion of stripped-down RnB and Hendrix-inspired wah-wah. Meanwhile, he became an in-demand songwriter after Dusty Springfield turned "Willie and Laura Mae Jones" into an instant classic, and Brook Benton followed suit with "Rainy Night in Georgia." By the '70s, White had toned down the lusty funk and transformed himself into an articulate singer-songwriter, one who detailed the complications of romance as well as the hardships of the Southern working class. Over the years the media-shy Louisianan has settled into cult artist status, scoring several more hits on the country charts. But in the end there can be no doubt that Tony Joe White, nicknamed the Swamp Fox, is indeed one of the coolest dudes to ever to wear black leather pants.

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