Legendary New Orleans icon Bo Dollis dies

Big Chief Bo Dollis and a member of The Wild Magnolias

Bo Dollis, the Big Chief of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indians troupe The Wild Magnolias has died at 71 at home in New Orleans.

Bo Dollis, the Big Chief of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indians troupe the Wild Magnolias has died at 71 at home in New Orleans.

Dollis was a key figure and prominent leader among New Orleans’ Indian groups. He led the Wild Magnolias from 1964 until his health forced him to retire a few years ago. He was drawn to New Orleans Indian culture as a boy and in his early days was a member of the Golden Arrows and then the White Eagles and joined the Wild Magnolias as their flag boy.

There are around 38 Indian tribes in New Orleans, many of whom parade in full colours on Saint Joseph's Day (March 19) and the nearest Sunday to Saint Joseph's Day, known as 'Super Sunday'. Each tribe gathers for practice regularly to work on chants and rhythms mainly using tamborines and meticulous attention is paid to dress. They are considered the real soul of Mardi Gras celebrations, a tradition in New Orleans.

With Bo as leader the Magnolias cut the first commercial recording of Mardi Gras Indian music with ‘Handa Wanda’ in 1970 and release albums. The band toured extensively around the world. They also appeared at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival numerous times and this year the festival poster will feature his image in tribute.

Lively celebrations continue nightly in New Orleans, led by Bo Dollis Jr.

The Wild Magnolias - Jockomo Jockomo

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