“Joie de vivre” was not simply a phrase that appeared in one or two of Leroy Martin’s songs; it was a way of life for him.
Leroy was born on August 4, 1929 and raised in Golden Meadow. His love affair with music began at a young age after his uncles introduced him to the magic of a guitar, and sprung into a career when he replaced a guitarist in Dudley Bernard's band, the "Southern Serenaders" in 1947.
He would go on to form “The Rebels” in 1955 and join “The Vikings”, as well as enter into the world of record production in the 1960’s with Vin Bruce's Cajun album for Swallow Records. Later he produced the national hit for Joe Barry and JIN records, "I'm A Fool to Care."
He supervised many recording sessions at Cosimo's Studio in New Orleans, including his own hits, "Born to be a Loser" and "There Goes That Train."
His work in music also led him to be a longstanding regular disc jockey for KTIB, where he took the opportunity to meet artists from across the country, most notably Elvis Presley before his rise to fame.
While in 1994 he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and appointed to the Louisiana Music Commission by Governor Edwin Edwards, it was in 1995 Leroy's dream of recording his own French Cajun songs came true when he produced "Leroy Martin Cajun Folk Songs, Fun Songs, & Love Songs" CD.
Within the liner notes of the album, Martin says, "I have never pretended to be a great singer, which is why I spent most of my life promoting artists whom I thought were, but I did feel I could interpret a song and since I wrote every song on this CD, I know that every note comes from my heart and soul."
In 2011, at the age of 82, Leroy recorded and released a two-disk 60-track album entitled “My Old Swamp Pops, My Old Friends and Some New Stuff”. The album certainly showcased his sentiments he shared in 1994.
And while he enjoyed his career in music, Leroy also felt called to public service. A member of the Louisiana National Guard, he also served in the Public Assessors Office. In 1983, after thirty years in the office, he ran for Lafourche Parish Tax Assessor. After winning in 1985, he served Lafourche for four terms, succeed by his son upon retirement in 2001.
His contributions towards the Parish however extended past the Assessors Office, also serving on the Lafourche Drainage District board. His passion for the community and culture of deep South Louisiana also motivated him to contribute a weekly newspaper column about local history, and his hunger to learn anything and everything was never satiated.
His daughter, Lisa, recalls “Not long ago, he said, ‘When you’re old, you want to learn. When you’re young, you have to learn. He wanted to know everything about technology.”
His granddaughter and best friend joyfully assisted him in expanding his knowledge.
In respect to his passing at age 90, his family expressed that what will be missed the most is “his wittiness, he was always cracking a joke, always smiling, always giving.”
Posted on Fri, September 27, 2019
by By Randi Doucet Contributing Writer