Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Cosimo Matassa Dies

Cosimo Matassa News     Courtesy of Tim J. Mueller (USA Today)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, Cosimo Matassa, has died at 88. The artist was famous for recording New Orleans rock, rhythm and blues in his legendary J&M studio from the 1950s to the 1970s. His granddaughter, Mia Matassa, said he had been ailing since suffering a stroke in 2009. His wife, Jennie, died that same year. They were married for 65 years.

Matassa was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. Shortly before that, the organization named his recording studio their 11th historic American rock and roll landmark. Throughout his career, 21 gold records and over 250 chart-topping singles spilled out of his humble studio. The small New Orleans storefront, which is now a laundromat, still has the old “J&M Music Shop” sign out front.

Originally, the space was a music store that sold used jukebox records, run by Matassa’s father, John, and his business partner Joe Mancuso. Matassa worked in the shop selling records. In 1945, he partnered with Mancuso and launched his recording business from within the store, setting up equipment in one of the back rooms. Their first recordings were for a New Jersey label called DeLuxe Records, who had been scouting for New Orleans jazz and blues musicians in the area when they discovered his modest startup.

His venture was an astonishing success. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website states that “Some of the greatest rhythm & blues and rock and roll sides of all time were laid down in Matassa’s small, unpretentious room.” Almost every Fats Domino song was recorded there. Other hits included Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” Chris Kenner‘s “Land of 1,000 Dances,” Big Joe Turner‘s “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” Ernie K. Doe’s “Mother in Law,” Professor Longhair‘s “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” Smiley Lewis‘ “I Hear You Knockin’,” and Frankie Ford‘s “Sea Cruise.”

In the 1960s, Matassa created his own label, Dover Records. He retired from music around 20 years later and went to work at Matassa’s Market, a grocery store and bar his sons John and Lewis purchased from their grandfather. Matassa is survived by three sons, seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Must Read

4 New Books About Music Perfect for Winter Snowstorms

It’s the middle of winter, and there’s not much going on. Television will be preempted by the Olympics. Opportunities to get outside are scarce....

Ingrid Michaelson: ‘Time Machine’ Music Video Review

Ingrid Michaelson is involved in some of the most creative music videos I’ve ever seen. She loves to turn things on their head just...

The 10 Best Fictional Bands: Jem, St. Pepper, The Folksmen and More

The Wonders Tom Hanks was fresh off an unprecedented string of hit movies as a leading man when he decided to try his hand...

Related Articles

4 New Books About Music Perfect for Winter Snowstorms

It’s the middle of winter, and there’s not much going on. Television will be preempted by the Olympics. Opportunities to get outside are scarce....

Ingrid Michaelson: ‘Time Machine’ Music Video Review

Ingrid Michaelson is involved in some of the most creative music videos I’ve ever seen. She loves to turn things on their head just...

The 10 Best Fictional Bands: Jem, St. Pepper, The Folksmen and More

The Wonders Tom Hanks was fresh off an unprecedented string of hit movies as a leading man when he decided to try his hand...

The Surprising Stories Behind America’s Favorite Patriotic Songs

Born in the U.S.A. Bruce Springsteen’s "Born in the U.S.A." has always featured at political rallies for both Republicans and Democrats. But the true meaning...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here