Tony Joe White Dies at Age 75

Swamp Rock King Leaves Lasting Musical Legacy

Covered by Ray Charles, Elvis Presley and Tina Turner, the swamp rock king Tony Joe White died from a heart attack on Wednesday (Oct. 24). White’s family confirmed his death through his record label Yep Roc on Thursday (Oct. 25).

Born July 23, 1943, in Oak Grove, La., White took the sights, sounds and details from his Louisiana roots, transformed them into songs and popularized the swamp rock genre around the world. He grew up on a cotton farm and was the youngest of seven children.

White first got inspired to write his own original material after hearing Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe." In 1967, he wrote two of his breakthrough hits, “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia,” the latter of which has been covered by many artists including Brook Benton, Dusty Springfield and Hank Williams, Jr. With a career that spans more than five decades, White has collaborated with Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, J.J. Cale and many others.

His latest album, Bad Mouthin’, was released on Sept. 28. He made his Grand Ole Opry debut that night. He is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

According to the Tennessean, White is survived by wife, Leann, children Michelle, Jim Bob and Jody, and several grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.

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