Rufus Thibodeaux

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Best known for his long collaboration with Grand Ole Opry legend Jimmy C. Newman, Cajun fiddler Rufus Thibodeaux was a renowned Nashville session musician for over half a century, assembling a vast body…
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Best known for his long collaboration with Grand Ole Opry legend Jimmy C. Newman, Cajun fiddler Rufus Thibodeaux was a renowned Nashville session musician for over half a century, assembling a vast body of work that spanned across generations and across genres. Born January 5, 1934, in Ridge, LA, Thibodeaux began playing guitar at age six before moving to the fiddle at 12. Within a year, he was a fixture at local dances, and joined Cajun swing steel guitarist Julius "Papa Cairo" Lamperez in 1949. Thibodeaux spent much of the following decade on the payroll at producer Jay Miller's Crowley studio, playing on his first record, the Clement Brothers' "Diggy Liggy Lo," in 1950. Around that same time, he met Newman in a south Louisiana nightclub and soon after joined his band, appearing on the singer's first major hit, 1952's "Cry, Cry Darling." Although Thibodeaux was a fixture of Newman's Opry appearances, often earning standing ovations for his incendiary solos, he remained a sought-after session player throughout his career, performing with Nashville royalty including Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, and Jim Reeves in addition to blues great Slim Harpo, Broadway star Carol Channing, and rock icon Neil Young (even touring with Young's short-lived backing band the International Harvesters). In 1970, Thibodeaux backed Newman on "Lache Pas la Patate," the first single in Cajun French ever certified gold. For La Louisianne Records, he also cut a solo record, The Cajun Country Fiddle of Rufus Thibodeaux. During his later years Thibodeaux battled diabetes, which forced the 1999 amputation of his leg but did little to curtail his busy recording schedule. He died in Nashville on August 12, 2005.