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Colorful, lively jazz funeral procession honors the life of Walter "Wolfman" Washington

"He was the kindest, gentlest man I ever met. He was the most generous person. He never said a bad word about anybody," his wife Michelle said.

NEW ORLEANS — The life of legendary blues musician, Walter "Wolfman" Washington was celebrated Wednesday with a jazz funeral and procession. He died of cancer December 22 at 79 years old.

Michelle Washington was his beloved wife.

"He was the kindest, gentlest man I ever met. He was the most generous person. He never said a bad word about anybody," she said.

Part of the New Orleans music scene for over 60 years, Washington played guitar for Lee Dorsey, Johnny Adams, and Irma Thomas before starting his band, The Roadmasters, in 1986. For about two decades he's played weekly at the Maple Leaf Bar and d.b.a.

"All he wanted to be was a pillar of New Orleans culture. He wanted to be part of the legacy forever of the music of this town," Washington said.

The loss in the New Orleans music scene is evident by the crowd of other culture bearers who showed up to pay their respects at his funeral Wednesday afternoon held at Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home. A packed second line followed to St. Louis Cemetery No. 3.

"I tell you man, the city of New Orleans and the whole world lost one of the greatest blues artists that ever came out of Louisiana," musician Rockin' Dopsie Jr. said. "One of the greatest people. He had a big heart."

"We're going to miss him, I know I am because when I was too young to go to bars, I was going to see Walter," said Merline Kimble of the Gold Digger Baby Dolls

"Nothing but love. Nothing but love," Washington's step-daughter, Sheryl Frught said. "Staple, staple of New Orleans and the first one to play after Katrina at the Maple Leaf and he just knew how to love."

Washington toured the world, but his wife says he was most proud to be honored at home.

"His album was album of the year in 2018. He won a French Grammy we never picked up because at the same time, he was named king of Krewe du Vieux in 2019 and he said he'd much rather ride in the parade as king of Krewe du Vieux than go to Paris and get his award,” Washington said.

His band still plans to play Wednesday night at d.b.a. in his honor.

A tribute concern for Washington will be held this Sunday at Tipitina's to help raise funds for his funeral and medical expenses. 

The show will include his band, the Roadmasters, Leo Nocentelli of the Meters, Jon Cleary, Galactic, Ivan Neville, and Little Freddie King.

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