One of the most talented and prolific session guitarists for over a decade in New Orleans also had a concurrent, if somewhat sporadic, career as an artist in his own right cutting singles for a variety of labels as well as working as an arranger for Ric Records in the late 1950’s.

Blanchard was born in 1924 twenty miles west of Baton Rouge but moved to New Orleans when he was very young, already playing professionally by the time he was ten years old. In 1946 Blanchard put together his band, The Gondoliers, a name he’d picked up while in Venice, Italy while a soldier in World War Two, and began to build a reputation as one of the most versatile acts in the region.

While working an extended gig in Houston at the Bronze Peacock, the club’s owner Don Robey signed Blanchard to his new record label where they recorded a lone single that featured his singing as well as playing. The following year the band broke up when Blanchard took a job going on the road behind Roy Brown, the originator of rock ‘n’ roll itself. Within a few months he was leading the band and had his first arranging assignments working for Brown in the studio, including on the #1 hit “Hard Luck Blues”.

After quitting over a disagreement in 1951 he returned to New Orleans to pick up session work in the now fertile studio scene in the city but was low on the depth charts when it came to getting calls and frustrated at the lack opportunities quit music in 1952 before being coaxed back and encouraged to re-form The Gondoliers.

Subsisting mostly on club work the band began getting calls to back touring artists when they came to The Crescent City which led to their getting more recognition within the industry and soon Blanchard was the go-to guitarist for Atlantic’s New Orleans based sessions, backing Big Joe Turner on the immortal “Honey Hush”, as well as cutting sides with Ray Charles, Professor Longhair and Tommy Ridgley. When Specialty Records came to town to record Little Richard it was Blanchard playing behind him as well and Bumps Blackwell, Specialty’s resident producer, cut singles on Blanchard himself at the same time.

When the Specialty sessions slowed down he simply moved to Chess Records where New Orleans’s legend Paul Gayten was now producing and Blanchard can be heard on most of the mid-to-late 1950’s sides recorded in the city including songs by Bobby Charles, Eddie Bo and Gayten himself, not to mention Blanchard’s own material.

At the end of the decade Ric Records was established in New Orleans and brought Blanchard in as it’s A&R man who doubled as their top arranger, his biggest hit in that role being Johnny Adams’s classic “I Won’t Cry”. The Gondoliers meanwhile were still playing clubs most nights of the year and were finally captured on a full length LP, Let’s Have A Blast, the only album Ric Records ever released on any artist.

But by the early 1960’s the recording scene in New Orleans was going through a transition as many of its top musicians had moved to the West Coast to take advantage of the greater opportunities there and so Blanchard returned to club work exclusively until even those jobs became scarce with the changing times.

In the mid-1960’s Blanchard got a regular 9 to 5 job, playing music only on the side, but his drinking habit was leading to increasingly poor health with portions of his liver having to be removed. In 1972 Edgar Blanchard, one of the greatest guitarists in New Orleans history who was now working as a security guard, died of a heart attack at the age of 48.
EDGAR BLANCHARD DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Peacock 1514; February, 1950)
Despite some nice guitar and a modestly appealing vocal the attitude of the record doesn’t match the arrogance of the lyrics thus leaving a disconnect it can’t quite overcome… it’s a pleasant listen at best that never brings itself to be demand to be heard. (4)

(Peacock 1514; February, 1950)
Though it’s hardly a very deep or colorful song to begin with the record gets dominated by Papa Lightfoot guesting on harmonica which changes the overall mood and makes Blanchard’s modest singing and playing all but irrelevant on his own record. (2)