“King” Richard Matthews to Be Buried Today

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It should come as no surprise to fans of traditional New Orleans jazz that the city’s mainstream media has no sense of history or gravity.  When a New Orleans musical icon like Marva Wright or Snooks Eaglin passes, every effort is made to publicize the life and the jazz funeral.  But when someone who’s most prominent work in the public eye occurred decades ago, but who remained relevant, albeit to a smaller segment of the city, until months before his death, the city’s media either turn a blind eye or are just plain ignorant.  I, for one, hope it’s ignorance.  Richard Matthews, who passed away last week at the age of 60, was the face of New Orleans culture throughout the 1960s and 1970s.  His image adorned billboards for Popeye’s Fried Chicken, Coca-Cola and other commercial advertisements.  He traveled the world as the Grand Marshall of the mighty Olympia Brass Band.  He was photographed countless times in dozens of countries.  Yet, his passing has not been noted anywhere except a loving obituary penned by Geraldine Wyckoff, which appeared in the Louisiana Weekly and was available on the streets of New Orleans on Monday.  It is a travesty and a shame that no one at the Times-Picayune, Gambit Weekly, Offbeat Magazine or any of the other publications that “celebrate” New Orleans culture has written a word about his passing and the significance of his life’s accomplishments.  It is also a sad commentary on the state of the media in New Orleans that the editors of those same publications are not astute enough to even glance at the Weekly to see what Wyckoff, who is arguably the grand dame of music journalists in the city, has written each week.  Ironically, that smaller segment of New Orleans culture that I mentioned above will be gathered in huge numbers this morning to mourn the death and celebrate the life of a true New Orleans icon. (photo credit- Dylan Stansbury)

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