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Snooks Eaglin, born Fird Eaglin, Jr. (January 21, 1936 February 18, 2009), was a guitarist and singer in New Orleans. He has also been referred to as Blind Snooks Eaglin in this early years.

His vocal style is reminiscent of Ray Charles; indeed, in the 50s, when he was in his late teens, he would sometimes bill himself as "Little" Ray Charles. He is generally regarded as a New Orleans R&B artist playing a wide range of music from blues, rock 'n' roll, jazz, country to Latin music. In his early years, he also played some straight-ahead acoustic blues.

His ability to play a wide range of songs and his ability to perfectly understand and make the tunes his own earned him the nickname the "human juKeb' Mo'ox." Eaglin claimed in interviews that his musical repertoire included some 2,500 songs.

At live shows, he did not usually prepare set lists, and was unpredictable, even to his band mates. He played songs that come to his head, and he also took requests from the audience.

Career

Childhood
Eaglin lost his sight not long after his first birthday after being stricken with glaucoma, and spent several years in the hospital with other ailments. Around the age of five Eaglin was given a guitar by his father, which he taught himself to play by listening to and playing with the radio. Being a mischievous young man, he was given the nickname "Snooks" after a radio character named Baby Snooks.

Early years
In 1947, at the age of 11, Eaglin won a talent contest organized by radio station WNOE by playing "Twelfth Street Rag". Three years later, he dropped out of the school for the blind to become a professional musician. In 1952, Eaglin joined the Flamingoes, a local 7-piece band started by Allen Toussaint. The Flamingoes didn't have a bass player, and according to Eaglin, he played both the guitar and the bass parts at the same time on his guitar. He stayed with The Flamingoes for several years, until their dissolution in the mid-50s.

As a solo artist, his recording and touring were inconsistent, and for a man with a career of about 50 years, his discography is rather slim. His first recording was in 1953, playing guitar at a recording session for James "Sugar Boy" Crawford.

The first recordings under his own name came when Harry Oster, a folklorist from Louisiana State University, found him playing in the streets of New Orleans. Oster made recordings of Eaglin between 1958 and 1960 during seven sessions which later became records on various labels including Folkways, Folklyric, and Prestige/Bluesville. These recordings were in folk blues style, Eaglin with an acoustic guitar without a band.

1960s onto the 70s
From 1960 to 1963, Eaglin recorded for Imperial. He played electric guitar on Imperial sessions with backup from a band including James Booker on piano and Smokey Johnson on drums. He recorded a total of 26 tracks which can be heard on The Complete Imperial Recordings CD. Much of the material on Imperial were written by Dave Bartholomew. Unlike the Harry Oster recordings, these works on Imperial are New Orleans R&B in the style for which he is widely known for today. After Imperial, in 1964, he recorded alone at his home with a guitar for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, released as I Blueskvarter 1964: Vol.3. For the remainder of the 1960s, he apparently went without any recordings.

His next work came on Swedish label Sonet in 1971. Another album Down Yonder was released in 1978 featuring Ellis Marsalis on piano. Apart from his own work, he joined recording sessions with Professor Longhair in 1971 and 72 (Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge) He also played some funky guitars on The Wild Magnolias' first album recorded in 1973.

Black Top and later years
He joined Nauman and Hammond Scott of Black Top Records in the 1980s which led to a recording contract with the label. Eaglin's Black Top years had been the most consistent years of his recording career. Between 1987 and 1999, he recorded 4 studio albums and a live album, and appeared as a guest on a number of recordings by other Black Top artists, including Henry Butler, Earl King, and Tommy Ridgley.

After Black Top Records closed its doors, Eaglin released The Way It Is on Money Pit Records. Though it is on a different label, it is literally another Black Top release as it is produced by the same Scott brothers of Black Top.

Death
Eaglin died of heart attack at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans on February 18, 2009. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and had been hospitalized for treatment. He was scheduled to make a come back appearance at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in Spring of 2009.

For many years, Eaglin lived in the suburbs of New Orleans in St. Rose with his wife Dorothea. Though he did not play many live shows, he regularly performed at Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans, and also at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.