Leroy "Happy Fats" LeBlanc

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The professional career that spanned half a century began in 1932 when at the age of 17, Leroy LeBlanc got on-stage to play guitar with the band of Cajun music legend Joe Falcon. He also worked with Amedee…
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The professional career that spanned half a century began in 1932 when at the age of 17, Leroy LeBlanc got on-stage to play guitar with the band of Cajun music legend Joe Falcon. He also worked with Amedee Breaux during his green period, forming his own band, the Rayne-Bo Ramblers, in 1935. The original lineup of this ensemble also included Eric Arcemeaux on fiddle. In the next few years, LeBlanc worked with Creole accordion king Ambrose Thibodeaux, as well as in the band of Doc Guidry. Also in this period, he worked with Luderin Darbone, Pee Wee Broussard, Papa Cairo Lamperez, Rex Champagne, and Crawford J. Vincent. LeBlanc was a regular visitor to many stations that broadcast Cajun music, and was known for his interesting and supportive impromptu comments about the importance of preserving the traditions of the interrelated genres of this region. Out of his recording career came a number of songs that have become Cajun standards, including "Colinda," "La Viex de Accordion," "Mon Bon Vieux Mari," and the best-selling "Dear Mr. President." He received a variety of honors in his home state, each of which made him even more "Happy" than he was before. November 9 is officially "Happy Fats LeBlanc Day" in Louisiana, as decreed by Governor Edwin Edwards in 1980. That this politician was indicted later on should not take away from the Happy glory; rather, these kind of legal problems are as traditional for politicians in this region as zydeco, Cajun, Creole, and la la music. Another honor well worth croaking about was his appointment as grand marshall of the Rayne Frog Festival. He recorded for RCA and Decca, major label forays into swampland as well as prolifically for regional outfits such as Fais-Do-Do, Bella, and Cajun Classics. Diabetes brought down this Cajun warrior, who was remembered not only for his musical contributions but for generous donations of his time and energy to a variety of charitable causes.