Frogman performs "But I Do" at Legends Of Louisiana 4-14-2007
Frogman Henry & Mike Shepherd 9-25-2007
It produced one of the worst album covers ever but there’s no question that the 1956 song Ain’t Got No Home launchedthe career of Clarence “Frogman” Henry. Still, the song that inspired his unique stage name was not his biggest hit.
Born in the New Orleans suburb of Algiers on March 19, 1937, Henry learned to play both piano and trombone,
instruments he continues to play. Like many other Crescent City musicians, he emulated Fats Domino and Professor
Longhair. It was while performing in the early morning hours in a club that he first came up with the idea behind Ain’t Got
No Home. The crowd’s response was favorable enough that Paul Gayten, New Orleans A&R man for Chess Records
rushed him into Cosimo Matassa’s studio in September of 1956 to record the song under the supervision of producerAllen Toussaint.
The novelty song, with Henry warbling in falsetto that he could “sing like a girl,” and in a raspy voice boasting that he
could “sing like a frog,” reached number three on the R&B charts and number 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It prompted
local disc jockey Poppa Stoppa to tag the nineteen-year-old singer with the Frogman nickname that he would carry
throughout his career. It also resulted in Argo Records, a subsidiary of Chess, issuing his first album. The album’s
cover was a photo of Henry lying on his stomach facing the camera with his head propped in his left hand. Perched
on his right shoulder was a goofy-looking frog that looked as though it might have served as a crude prototype for Kermit.
The album featured several standards in the traditional New Orleans style and gave Henry the opportunity to recordwith Nashville sax legend Boots Randolph and Shreveport pianist Floyd Cramer.
Henry appeared destined to become one of hundreds of one-hit wonders after that, however, when he had trouble
scoring a follow-up hit. But then in 1961 he recorded (I Don’t Know Why) But I Do, written by Abbeville native
Bobby Charles Guidry (who also wrote See You Later Alligator and Walkin’ to New Orleans). But I Do, arranged
by Toussaint, became Henry’s biggest hit, reaching number four on Billboard’s Hot 100, and remaining on the charts
for sixteen weeks. It received new life when it was included in the soundtrack of the 1994 Academy Award-winning
movie Forrest Gump. That song was followed in short order by the Mills Brothers standard You Always Hurt the OneYou Love, which peaked at number 12 and remained on the charts for ten weeks.
After switching to the Parrot label, Henry recorded Have You Ever Been Lonely? which just missed breaking into the
Hot 100 chart. Following that, Henry opened eighteen concerts for the Beatles in the U.S. and Canada in 1964.
For the next two decades, he played in clubs on Bourbon Street. He continues to perform at the annual New Orleans
Jazz & Heritage Festival. He was inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in 1995 and in 2002, received the Living
Legend Award in. He has also received the New Orleans Big Easy Entertainment award and the Armstrong Cultural
Ambassador to New Orleans award. In 2005, he escaped injury from Hurricane Katrina even though his home suffered
damage from the storm.
On April 14, 2007 at the LMHOF "Legends Of Louisiana Celebration & Inductions" concert in Mandeville, Louisiana,
Clarence Henry was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame.
To learn and experience more, please visit Clarence "Frogman" Henry's Inductees (Photo & Memorabalia) Gallery and his
Inductees Video Gallery under "GALLERIES MUSIQUE" on this site.
Bio courtesy of Tom Aswell - Author of "Louisiana Rocks - The True Genesis Of Rock And Roll"
Be sure to visit Clarence Henry's Video Gallery and Inductee's Photo & memorabalia Gallery under "GALLERIES MUSIQUE" on this site.
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