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April 20, 2023


Herschel Edmund Dwellingham

November 2, 1944 - April 16, 2023

Herschel Edmund Dwellingham, Sr., a native of Bogalusa, passed away April 16, 2023, after a long illness.

Herschel was born in Bogalusa LA in 1944. He played "drums" on his mother's pots and pans as a baby, and used to haunt the famous 4th Street juke joints listening to the likes of Ray Charles, Bobby Bland, BB King, Gatemouth Brown, Ivory Joe Hunter, Allen Touissant, Ernie Kado, Tommy Ridgley, so many, he can't remember them all. He received his first set of drumsticks from the legendary drummer, Earl Palmer, who became a friend and mentor. He played drums with the Rhythm Aces from 1959 through 1963. After graduating from Bogalusa High School, Herschel received a full scholarship to Berklee School of Music in Boston MA. There he studied under William Maloof and Walter Piston. In 1966, he became the leader of the first integrated band in Boston performing with such classmates as John Abercrombie, Stanton Davis, Bobby Eldridge, Charlie Owens and Ernie Watts. In 1973, Joe Zawinul hired him to play on the fourth Weather Report album, "Sweetnighter" because he needed a funky drummer, and, as a result, Herschel's career took off. 

He moved to New York City with his wife, Alva and their three children and began a long career as a top New York session musician.

In New York, he worked with Stephanie Mills, Harry Chapin (" Cats In The Cradle", Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Jackie Wilson, The Manhattans, Irene Reed, Ben Vereen and David and Jimmy Ruffin. He was an original member of the Stuff Rhythm Section, with Richard Tee, Gordon Edwards, Cornell Dupree, Paul Griffin and Eric Gail. He also worked for the famous contractor, Phil Medley. Among the Broadway shows he was involved with were The Wiz, Your Arms Too Short To Box With God, Don't Play Us Cheap, Raisin, and Bubblin' Brown Sugar. He had a record label with his first wife, Alva, called Helva, and produced many dance hits through the 80s. He produced, composed and arranged music for The Escorts, Sugar & Spice, Mongo Santeria, Timothy Wilson, Sandy Mercer, Mary Starr, Marlena, Melvin Van Peebles Don't Play Us Cheap) Frank Lynch, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis. He wrote the scores for Little Bit, On Toby Time, and the theme song for the off-Broadway production of Chittlin' Circuit, plus other symphonic and chamber music. 

Herschel had dabbled in some film scoring, most notably Smut and A Bellyful with Melvin Van Peebles. In 2003. Herschel and his second wife, Mary Starr, returned to Bogalusa to live with and care for his elderly mother, Gladys. That year, they also started a record company, Bogue/Magic City Records, and a production company called Bogalusa Music Group.

Herschel is survived by his wife, Mary Anne (Mueller) Dwellingham, his three children, Herschel Emerson, Erschel Marie and Christopher, plus eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be on April 24, 2003 at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Bogalusa, Louisiana. Visitation will be from 10:00 AM until the Funeral Service at 12:00 PM. Elder Christopher Matthews, Officiating

Cook-Richmond Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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