American songwriting legend Bobby Charles dies

The 71 year-old passes away at his Louisiana home

Singer/songwriter Bobby Charles has died aged 71 in his native Louisiana.

Charles, who wrote a host of classic songs including Fats Domino’s ‘Walking To New Orleans’ and Bill Haley And The Comets‘See You Later, Alligator’, passed away after collapsing his home in Abbeville on Thursday (January 14).

Charles also composed ‘(I Don’t Know Why I Love You) But I Do’ a major hit in the ’50s for Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, and which featured on the soundtrack to the multiple-Oscar winning 1994 movie Forrest Gump.

A reluctant performer, Charles had largely kept a low profile since taking part in The Band‘s farewell concert in November 1976 at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, documented in the movie and album ‘The Last Waltz’.

Charles played ‘Down South In New Orleans’ at the event, with the help of Dr. John and The Band themselves. The performance, however, was not captured on film, therefore Charles only appeared in the movie briefly singing on the concert’s final song, ‘I Shall Be Released’ when Bob Dylan and The Band pianist Richard Manuel were backed by the evening’s entire ensemble.

Charles rarely performed, and released albums only occasionally. He had recently completed working on ‘Timeless’, a collection of mostly new songs dedicated to Fats Domino, which he produced with his longtime friend and associate Dr. John. That album is scheduled to be released next month.

In September 2007, The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inducted Charles for his contribution to local music.