Artist Catalog

Tuts Washington

Born: January 24 1907
Born in: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Tuts Washington

Isidore "Tuts" Washington (January 24, 1907 – August 5, 1984) was an American Louisiana blues pianist, who exemplified New Orleans rhythm and blues, a style also made famous by musicians such as Professor Longhair and Huey "Piano" Smith.

Washington was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, He taught himself to play the piano at age 10 and studied with the New Orleans jazz pianist Joseph Louis "Red" Cayou. In the 1920s and 1930s, he was a leading player for dance bands and Dixieland bands in New Orleans. His unique style of play blended elements of ragtime, jazz, blues, and boogie-woogie.

After World War II, Washington joined the singer and guitarist Smiley Lewis in a trio with the drummer Herman Seals; they released several well-known songs for Imperial Records, including "Tee-Nah-Nah," "The Bells Are Ringing" and "Dirty People." Washington then moved to St. Louis to play with Tab Smith. He returned to New Orleans in the 1960s, performing in restaurants in the French Quarter, in clubs such as Tipitina's, and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. For years he had a regular engagement playing piano at a bar in the Pontchartrain Hotel. He avoided recording for most of his career, but he released the solo piano album New Orleans Piano Professor for Rounder Records in 1983.

Washington died on August 5, 1984, after having a heart attack while performing at the World's Fair in New Orleans.

A live recording by Washington, Live at Tipitina's '78, was released by Night Train International Records in 1998.