Clifton Chenier Interview, 1984

Clifton didn’t grant many interviews and I was worried I wouldn’t get to talk with him. His wife, Margaret, was fiercely protective of him and wouldn’t let me into the house when I went to interview him. Fortunately for me somehow it happened that his friend Helen Faulk said I could interview Clifton at her house. He was so charming and friendly, kind of shy. There was a loud parakeet screeching all the way through the interview but what was I to do? Clifton said he would let me film him playing old time Lala music with his brother Cleveland. Sadly, he became very ill shortly after that and passed away before I could do it.

-Ann Savoy

Clifton Chenier, 1983
Photo by Chris Strachwitz
  • Clifton Chenier, 1984 00:00
Interviewee: Clifton Chenier
Interviewer: Ann Savoy
Date: February 12, 1984
Location: Helen Faulk’s Home in Louisiana
Language: English

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission.

Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.