Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – Lonely Street

12th May 2024 · 1960s, 1961, 2020s, 2024, Music, R.I.P., Rockabilly

RIP Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry (1937-2024) – New Orleans pianist, rockabilly legend and singer of novelty single Ain’t Got No Home.

This week found Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry joining his near namesake Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown in the sweet hereafter. I was going to say “the only two” Clarences in popular music but I’d be wrong.

There was also Springsteen’s saxman Clarence Clemons from the E Street Band and the great soul singer Clarence Carter – now the last Clarence standing.

Frogman and Gatemouth had much in common, both being born in Louisiana and both making their mark in New Orleans, influenced by the Crescent City’s legendary figures Fats Domino and Professor Longhair.

Both were also nicknamed after the way they sang, apparently: while I have often seen a gate swing I have never heard one sing. I have, however, heard a frog croak – not least on Clarence Henry’s abidingly irritating novelty hit Ain’t Got No Home.

Frogman, who played piano and trombone, deserves to be remembered for more than that, because his wide repertoire ranges from rockabilly to boogie-woogie, with a N’awlins swing to all of it.

He had a couple of other hits after Ain’t Got No Home, with the ballads (I Don’t Know Why I Love You) But I Do and You Always Hurt The One You Love, and this tune – Lonely Street – was the nearest he came to having another in what was his most successful year, 1961.

The highlight of his career came three years later when he supported The Beatles on their 18-date tour of the USA and Canada; after that he became a fixture in the French Quarter, playing on the Bourbon Street strip for two decades.