Beau Jocque at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, 1997
|Andrus Joseph Espree|
|Born||November 1, 1953|
|Died||September 10, 1999
Beau Jocque (born Andrus Joseph Espree; November 1, 1953 - September 10, 1999) was a Louisiana French Creole zydeco musician active in the 1990s.
Beau Jocque is known for his gruff vocals, his fusion of many musical styles into zydeco, and above all, for the powerful energy of his rhythm and sound. Backed by the Hi-Rollers, he became one of the top dance-hall acts of his musical decade. He recorded and performed many songs in both Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole languages, primarily on the Rounder Records label.
Beau Jocque was found collapsed in the shower by his wife, dead of an apparent heart attack at the height of his career. He was a long time resident of Kinder, Louisiana and is buried in Saint Matildas Cemetery, Eunice, Louisiana.
Beau Jocque was born Andrus Joseph Espree in Duralde, Louisiana to Sanders and Vernice (neé Allen) Espree. He was also known to write poetry, and preach about respecting nature. He spent nine years in the Air Force, then came home to work as an electrician and welder. After leaving the Air Force, he experienced a work-related accident, which left him temporarily bedridden and partially paralyzed. During his recuperation, he began playing his father's accordion. Soon after, he put a band together, including his wife Shelly on rubboard. By 1989, just two years after his accident, Espree was one of the biggest draws on the Louisiana zydeco circuit.
Espree grew up speaking Louisiana Creole French and spoke it fluently. As he was physically a large man at 6 ft 6 in (198 cm) tall and 270 pounds (120 kg), he took the stage name "Beau Jocque," which is Louisiana Creole for "Big Guy." After only a few years, he had revolutionized the zydeco scene, adding funk and rock elements with his band, the Hi-Rollers.
In 1995, he suffered a heart attack in Austin, Texas while touring with Marcia Ball and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. Radio stations in Louisiana had reported the 1995 heart attack was fatal, and he surprised his fans (including the town's mayor) by shortly thereafter appearing in the local supermarket in Kinder.
Members of the Hi-Rollers include:
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