When he was growing up New Orleans, Pat Guidry hung out with Art and Aaron Neville, two of the city’s most famous band of brothers.
That’s pretty heady stuff for a boy who was born in a camp cabin on the banks of the Mississippi River.
“I was born in a part of New Orleans known as Uptown Carrollton in a levee camp,” Guidry, who is also known as “Pitty Pat” or “Scatpat” said. “The Neville brothers and I were close friends.”
Not only was he friends with the Nevilles, he was also related to New Orleans musical royalty. His grandmother and the great Mahalia Jackson were half-sisters.
Jackson would later become known as the “Queen of Gospel Music,” but to Guidry, she was simply Auntie Mahalia.
“Auntie Mahalia used to sing lullabies to me,” he said.
Guidry lived in the camp until his mom, Dorothy Ford Guidry, became ill and could no longer care for him and his brother, Edmond.
“They sent my brother and me to the Milne Boys Home when my mama got sick,” he said.
Guidry lived at the Milne home for eight years. Life at the orphanage wasn’t always a walk in the park, but it wasn’t a complete washout, either.
“Peter Davis taught me music at the home,” Guidry says. “Mr. Davis was Louis Armstrong’s music teacher, too.”
Guidry played drums with the Milne Home band that Davis organized. They worked nights in the Crescent City.
“Mr. Davis took us out in the community,” Guidry remembers. “We played all over the city.”
Guidry says his musical influences were his aunt’s gospel music, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson and other 1950s and 1960s soul and rock ’n’ roll.
After he left the boys home, Guidry worked as a roadie for Art Neville’s band, The Meters, a New Orleans-based band credited with creating the sound of “funk.”
Guidry’s main responsibility was to handle the setup and breakdown of the band’s sound equipment, but he also got to sit in on the gig sometimes, singing backup or playing an instrument.
“The Meters never got the credit they deserved,” Guidry said “They worked with Patti LaBelle, Dr. John and Paul McCartney. They were great.”
Between gigs, Guidry lived with his grandmother in New Orleans. After she died, Guidry decided to try his luck in Las Vegas.
“My cousin Rhonda was singing with Bobby Ellis,” he explained. “One of the people in Ellis’ group suggested I go to Vegas.”
Guidry’s first Vegas gig was at the Judy Bayley Theatre at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. From there, he landed a spot on the Johnny Rico Talent Show at the California Hotel.
“I won the talent contest 52 weeks in a row,” Guidry said.
After making a name for himself on the talent show, Guidry was able to find regular work in the hotels of Sin City.
“I worked them all,” he said, noting that one his many nicknames was “The Mockingbird of Soul,” due to his ability to mimic more famous singers.
Guidry, who came to Sulphur Springs the first time in 2004 after meeting Lisa José who was in Nevada during a vacation, was also involved in charity work in the Las Vegas area.
“I worked shows for the Las Vegas Junior League and Opportunity Village, a charity that helps kids with Downs’ Syndrome,” Guidry said.
The charity work paid off, as he was invited to sing during one of Dinah Shore’s golf tournaments at Pebble Beach.
That gig led to a spot on tour with Shore, who died in 1994, after a long career as a band singer, actress and popular talk show host. In her later years, Shore was romantically linked with a much younger Burt Reynolds.
“She was a real lady,” Guidry says.
After the tour with Shore ended, Guidry hooked up with Bob Hope, Doris Day and Dennis Weaver (best known as “Chester” from “Gunsmoke,” the long-running television series).
He spent two years doing a variety show with Weaver in Ouray, Colo.
“Dennis and I were born one day apart,” said Guidry. “I was born on June 3. He was born on June 4. He was a great human being.”
Guidry, who has six children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild, moved to Sulphur Springs for good in 2006 to be with his lady love.
“Lisa grew up in Greenville and still has family there. At the time, she was living here in Sulphur Springs, taking care of one of her aunts,” Guidry explained. “Plus, two of her sisters and two brothers also live here.”
But just because he’s left the bright lights of Vegas in his rear view mirror doesn’t mean he’s left his good friends or his music behind. He stays in contact with Art Neville in New Orleans, and travels there from time to time see his childhood friends.
Guidry will also be travelling to Las Vegas to do some gigs, and he would like to perform locally, too.
“I’m available to sing. I would love to sing anywhere people like to hear music,” Guidry said. “I’m still writing songs, too.”
Guidry’s latest singles are “The Last Highway” and “Mama’s Bedtime Stories.”
For CD pricing and ordering information, contact Guidry at:
P.O. Box 242, Sulphur Springs, TX 75843
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