Lavada Durst

b. 9 January 1913, Austin, Texas, USA, d. 31 October 1995, Austin, Texas. As a 12-year-old, Durst learned to play the piano in the church opposite his home. He later claimed his left hand was influenced…
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Artist Biography

b. 9 January 1913, Austin, Texas, USA, d. 31 October 1995, Austin, Texas. As a 12-year-old, Durst learned to play the piano in the church opposite his home. He later claimed his left hand was influenced by Albert Ammons and Meade ‘Lux’ Lewis and his right by renowned Texas bluesman, Robert Shaw, whom he met eight years later. Durst continued to play in an amateur capacity at house-rent parties and suppers while running recreation facilities in East Austin. His talent for jive talk landed him a job as an announcer at baseball games at Disch Field, which in turn brought him to the attention of the local radio station, KVET. As ‘Dr. Hepcat’, in 1948 he became the first black disc jockey in Texas, broadcasting six days a week. Programme director Fred Caldwell also owned Uptown Records, for whom Durst recorded ‘Hattie Green’ and ‘Hepcat’s Boogie’ in 1949. Shortly afterwards he re-recorded the first title for Don Robey’s Peacock label. In the late 50s, Durst managed the Chariottes spiritual group, who also recorded for Peacock. He gave up playing music in 1965 when he was ordained as a minister at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church, but returned to the piano a decade later. Durst was unusual for a Texas blues pianist by maintaining a strong left-hand pulse to his blues and boogie improvisations that accompanied his semi-improvised monologues.