A New Orleans king-pin from the 1950's onward. His contributions include horn arrangements which can be heard as an early precursor to the funky music which followed in the 60's and onward.
Robert Parker's hit “Barefootin” (Quezergue himself produced the record), rose to #2 on the R&B chart, and #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. NOLA reported that “Barefootin'” sold over one million copies. Quezergue then went on to record hits with Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff,” and King Floyd’s “Groove Me,” both of which had been initially rejected by major labels that found them uncommercial. He was an in-demand arranger, working his magic on Dorothy Moore’s smash hit “Misty Blue,” and creating stage arrangements for a number of Motown acts.
In 1992, Quezergue produced and arranged the classic Dr. John album Goin’ Back to New Orleans, which was a Grammy winner. More awards came his way as a result of his work with Will Porter in 2005. But that was the year of Hurricane Katrina, and Quezergue, who was legally blind by that time, lost pretty much everything. Dr. John did not forget his friend, and led benefit concerts to help Quezergue get back on his feet.
In 2009, Loyola University in New Orleans recognized Quezergue’s selfless dedication to the careers of others and gave him an honorary doctorate degree. That same year, Ponderosa Stomp paid tribute to him in a concert at Lincoln Center that featured Dr. John, the Dixie Cups, Jean Knight, and yes, Robert Parker.
Just before his death in 2011, Quezergue completed what he considered his most important works. One was his classical religious piece, “The Passion.” The other was Will Porter’s second album, which featured a powerful assemblage of the greatest talent New Orleans had to offer. No one would ever have said no to Wardell Quezergue. Many thought of him as their teacher.