Robert Parker, Singer of 1966 Hit “Barefootin’,” Dies at 89

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Rhythm ’n’ blues singer Robert Parker, who scored a top 10 hit in 1966 with the dance tune “Barefootin’,” died Jan. 19, 2020, according to published reports in the New Orleans area. He was 89. His death, in his hometown of Roseland, La., was confirmed by a nephew, who said Parker passed from natural causes.

Watch Parker perform his only big hit

“Barefootin’,” which Parker also wrote, was actually the singer’s second record to chart on the Billboard Top Pop Singles chart. Parker made his debut back in 1959 with “All Nite Long (Part 1),” but that single peaked at #113. It appeared on the local Ron label, and Parker didn’t return to the chart for seven years, when “Barefootin’,” on the Nola label, and arranged and produced by Wardell Quezergue, rose to #7 on that chart; it also reached #2 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart. Parker scored twice more, with “The Scratch” in 1966 and “Tip Toe” the following year, but neither came close to repeating his big success.

Robert Parker was born Oct. 14, 1930, in New Orleans and became a saxophonist. He played on the 1949 Professor Longhair hit “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” and went on to work with local artists like Fats Domino, Irma Thomas and Huey “Piano” Smith. He also led the house band at the Tijuana Club in New Orleans for five years, backing artists such as Little Richard and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Another band, Robert Parker and the Royals, served a similar function, backing Big Joe Turner, Solomon Burke and others.

“All Nite Long” was an instrumental recording, but Parker then added vocals to his act, which led to his biggest hit. He received an RIAA gold record for “Barefootin’,” which reportedly sold more than a million copies.

Related: What were the other big hits of 1966?

Parker stopped recording in the 1970s but continued to perform live, including booking at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; he also spent some time as a member of Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s band. In 2007 he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. In 2009 he appeared at a concert in New York’s Lincoln Center.

Listen to the original hit of “Barefootin'”

“Barefootin'” has been covered by several rock artists, including Brownsville Station, Pete Townshend and Johnny Winter.

Here is the Brownsville Station cover.

Watch Townshend’s live version

And Johnny Winter’s…

And Tom Jones teamed up with soul great Wilson Pickett to do their version.

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. RecordSteve
    #1 RecordSteve 20 January, 2020, 16:06

    Nice tribute article on Robert “Barefootin'”
    Palmer=thanks for including some videos!

    Reply this comment
  2. Stuart
    #2 Stuart 21 January, 2020, 08:28

    Barefoot Jerry did a nice version of Barefootin

    Reply this comment

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