An American blues musician and artist from Ascension Parish, Louisiana, Curtis John Arceneaux was widely known by his stage name, Coco Robicheaux (October 25, 1947 - November 25, 2011). Musically and otherwise, Arcenaux was no stranger to the blues. Playing the Blues for most of his life, at the young age of 13, he formed his own band and had the opportunity to perform on Bourbon Street just two years later. By the time he was 18 years old, he had managed to secure a record deal.
As a result of being hit by a car, he sustained a fracture to his spine, and due to his lack of health insurance, he had to seek treatment at a charitable hospital. He endured more than 24 hours of excruciating pain while waiting beside a gunshot victim in an emergency room. Witnessing firsthand what a significant portion of the population endures as a result of unaffordable healthcare coverage solidified his determination to take action to do something to help. He was one of the featured volunteer contributors on the CD Get You a Healin', a fundraising project for the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic housed in the Health Sciences Centre at LSU. The album had a lighthearted theme where each track centered around a body part or a medical condition, and Robicheaux contributed "Louisiana Medicine Man." In San Francisco during the 1960s, he played a key role in setting up a free health clinic in collaboration with other socially conscious individuals, including singer Janis Joplin.
Arceneaux adopted his stage name from a Louisiana folktale, in which a naughty child called Coco Robicheaux is taken away by a werewolf (also known as Loup Garou or Rougarou). The name 'Coco Robicheaux' is repeated in the song "I Walk on Gilded Splinters" from Dr. John the Night Tripper's 1968 album, Gris-Gris.
In 1965, he produced a record under the Mississippi label JB. However, he did not record anything else until the mid-'90s, when he released Spiritland through Orleans Records. Robicheaux's album received a positive reception. He recorded Louisiana Medicine Man in 1998 and subsequently released Hoodoo Party. Offbeat magazine dubbed him the winner of its Best Blues Album by a Louisiana Artist award for the year 1998. The following year, he was nominated three times, with one nomination in the category of Best Blues Artist, by the Big Easy Entertainment Awards.
Apart from performing in New Orleans, he entertained audiences in Colorado, New York, South Carolina, Paris, and Australia. Starting in 1994, he performed continuously at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for eight years and played at festivals in Canada and France. He also performed every year at the New Orleans French Quarter Festival starting in 1995.
Following the turn of the millennium, Robicheaux launched three albums under the Spiritland label: Yeah, U Rite! (2005), Like I Said, Yeah, U Rite! (2008), and Revelator (2010).
On November 25, at the age of 64, Coco Robicheaux sadly passed away during the early evening at Tulane Medical Centre in New Orleans. Following a sudden heart attack, he was swiftly transported to the hospital from his favorite hangout, the Apple Barrel on Frenchmen Street, where he often lounged on the outdoor bench in his trademark reptilian boots.
Following the passing of Robicheaux, two second-line parades were organized to pay tribute to him. These parades made their way past the Apple Barrel bar. Subsequently, more formal musical tributes were held at the French Quarter Festival in March 2012, at the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo in May 2012, and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in May 2013.