Leon Eagleson RIP

My old buddy Leon Eagleson passed away last week. Leon was the proprietor of OK Book and Records, next door to the original Antone's on Sixth Street.
He came from Nederland in the Golden Triangle, where he sold Clifford Antone his first blues record.
Leon was part-Cajun and total wild man and always dated women of color. He's the one who first brought Clifton Chenier to Austin and who later reintroduced Clifton to his long-lost son, CJ, who joined his dad's band in Austin. It was because of Leon that I once sold two record albums to Bob Dylan when I was supposed to be chasing him for a story. It was Leon who hosted Good Rockin' Dupsie & the Twisters in the back of his store, where there was always some kind of action going on. And it was Leon who guided me to southwest Louisiana on one of my all-time favorite music stories ever--dancing and drinking at Sid's Bearkat Lounge at 10 am on a Saturday morning, hanging and drinking with Marc Savoy at his music store in Eunice where we inspired him to leave the counter and lead an impromptu jam session with his friends, jumping to Dewey Balfa and the Balfa Brothers along with Savoy at a dance in Opelousas, and finding Clifton and his band at a Ten Acre Club in the middle of nowhere where the entire room fell silent when two white boys walked through the door until Clifton, spying Leon, announced from the bandstand that we were OK. Leon was there at the wildest dance I've ever witnessed at Jay's Lounge and Cockpit in Cankton, LA (cockfighting in the back; loser winds up in the gumbo) headlined by Clifton and his Red Hot Louisiana Band with Lightnin' Hopkins as the undercard. A group of Texas visitors had been seated near the front of the joint before the doors opened. Once they did, some impatient fans smashed a window and poured through, saving their cover charge for more alcohol. Leon was there as Lightnin''s valet; he later regaled me with stories how Lightnin' traveled, including the Folger's coffee can he carried with him so he could pee while riding or driving, without inconviencing others.
Leon was friends with Tony Von, the Taylor disc jockey who called himself "the only colored TV on radio". Once I set up a phone interview from Leon's store between Tony and George Clinton, whose Parliament-Funkadelic was playing the Armadillo. Clinton, who was and remains the epitome of extreme craziness, was taken aback by OK Records and Tony Von, both of which were more extreme than he ever dreamed of. OK's blues collectibles were sufficiently noteworthy to prompt a very wasted Steve Miller to crawl around the back of Leon's store at 4 am after playing a concert in search of a rare side. Leon also sold current RnB singles--several Mexican customers once demanded copies of a new KC & the Sunshine Band single they referred to as "Keep it Common Law", not knowing the actual title was "Keep It Coming Love". Leon drove Big Walter Horton and me out to eat catfish east of Austin once while we argued all the way there and back whether Cadillac made the Lincoln Continental, as Big Walter insisted.

Leon left Austin almost 25 years ago to move back home and tend to his momma, who gave birth to ten children. Turns out Leon was the youngest, and was referred to around the house as Popsy; a brother and sister were called Nut and Putt. He put on a lot of weight, never married, kept drinking, hung around an auto body shop, and didn't wake up one day last week.

Leon was profane, outrageous, loud, obnoxious and a beautiful human being, although if he were alive, he'd give me shit for saying that. I thank him for all he showed me, and I miss him dearly.

John Morthland found this link to the cheesy video memory book the funeral home put together. I think someone told Broussards that Leon liked golf.


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