Swamp Pop Pioneer Legend Rod Bernard Dead at 79
Influenced by a wide variety of musical heroes, Rod Bernard of Opelousas was no spring chicken to playing and performing. Bernard is considered to be one of the great pioneers of what we know now as swamp pop music. The genre is a mixture of blues, country, and creole music.
Bernard formed a band called The Twisters in 1957. They recorded a song called This Should Go on Forever in 1958 at a studio in Ville Platte, Louisiana. The song took off like wildfire across Louisiana and Texas. It was then leased out to Argo Records. After the lease, the song became an national hit that following year, in 1959. The song was such a national hit that it landed Bernard on Dick Clark's American Band Stand. The show helped propel Bernard even more, as he eventually made it back on to Dick Clark's Saturday Night Beechnut Show, and The Alan Freed Show.
Bernard also toured with B.B. King, Frankie Avalon, Chuck Berry, and even Jerry Lee Lewis. After the Marine Corps, Bernard returned to Louisiana and joined up with Warren Storm and Skip Stewart to form The Shondells. The group also recorded hits such as Congratulations To You Darling, Papa Thibodeaux, and Recorded in England.
Bernard would go on to perform on and off up until 2015. His last live performance was the Ponderosa Stomp music festival in New Orleans. He then retired from radio as an advertising exec in January 2018. According to a tweet by his son, Shane Bernard, his father passed away yesterday, July 12, after having a short illness in New Iberia.