Eddie Powers (performing with Earl Stanley and the Stereos) at the Stomp on Wednesday
Eddie Powers might never have had the honor of knocking the Beatles out of the number one spot on the charts in New Orleans in 1964 were it not for a no-show singer and an organ player who had no idea what he was doing. But when singer Whitney Roussell failed to report to Cosimo Matassa's studio, where songwriter Earl Stanley—already infamous for playing bass alongside Mac Rebennack on greasy sides like Morgus and the Ghouls' "Morgus The Magnificent" and Roland Stone's "Remember Me"—was getting ready to cut one of his first original songs, Powers took up the slack in spades.
"Whitney didn't show up to sing and I happened to remember Eddie," says Stanley, "so I called him up and he said, 'Yeah, I'll be there.' He came right down, learned the song right there and that's when we started working together."
The natural synergy of Powers' soaring vocals and Stanley's crack white R&B combo the Stereos—not to mention his straight-to-the point organ riffs—not only trumped the Fab Four at the height of Beatlemania in the Crescent City, but blasted "Gypsy Woman" all the way to the number three spot in New York City.
"I made records where I had each guy playing note-for-note," says Stanley, "and they never made nothing. But 'Gypsy Woman,' I was playing organ and I didn't know how to play it; I was just learning. That's why it's so simple, because I only knew one or two things. Maybe that's for the best. If I'd have been real good and cluttered it all up with junk, it wouldn't sound the same."
The end result was an infectious soul-charged rocker that paved the way for stirring sides like "No Cure For The Blues" and "I'll Dream No More" and solidified a musical partnership that remains truly magical nearly half a century later. Powers lives up to his name, still wailing in an emotional register that never fails to bring the house down and capturing the visceral energy of true Crescent City R&B every time he steps up to a microphone.
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