Music Legend Buckwheat Zydeco, Ambassador of Southern Roots Music, Dead at 68

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Stanley Dural Jr., a Louisiana music legend whose stage name was Buckwheat Zydeco, has died. He was 68.

Buckwheat Zydeco performs at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 30, 2010, in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Buckwheat Zydeco performs at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 30, 2010, in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

As an ambassador of Louisiana roots music, Dural traveled the world with his accordion, a ton of stage swagger and a deep love for his family and home state — spreading the throbbing sounds of zydeco music to millions of adoring fans.

“He died at 1:32 a.m. (Saturday) Louisiana time, keeping musician’s hours right to the bitter end,” longtime manager Ted Fox posted on the musician’s website.

“I am grieving for my best friend and colleague of more than 30 years.”

Health problems

Dural had suffered from health problems in recent years, including lung and throat cancer, Fox said.

His infectious brand of music, which honored south Louisiana Creole culture, earned him a 2010 Grammy and an Emmy, and numerous other awards.

“His music captured the food, music, language and dancing — the way of life for people in the region,” fellow musician Sean Ardoin told CNN.

Ardoin said he saw Dural, whom he called Buck, in the last few weeks of his life. During a visit to his Lafayette, Louisiana, hospital room, Ardoin said, he encouraged him to “take the music to another level.”

Besides performing his own traditional songs, Dural also played cover tunes. His version of the Jimi Hendrix classic “Hey Joe” was given a complete zydeco makeover that exposed his sounds to a new audience — via rock radio stations.

Dural regularly performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and closed out the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He also played several presidential inaugurations.

As far as his stage name goes, there’s a story behind it. He earned the “Buckwheat” as a nod to the “Little Rascals” character, according to NOLA.com.