If you're a fan of Louisiana blues and roots music, chances are good you've heard at least one song written by singer/songwriter and keyboardist David Egan. His tunes have been recorded by the likes of Joe Cocker, Marcia Ball, Etta James, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, Irma Thomas, Mavis Staples, John Mayall, and Little Buster & the Soul Brothers, and that's just the short list. Egan was raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, a city that has spawned some serious musicians and groups throughout the rock & roll era. He studied jazz and music composition at North Texas State University in Denton, Texas and took a job in Memphis shortly after graduating, but he really began to hone his chops as a songwriter after moving to Nashville, where he worked a day job taking tourists around to see the homes of country music stars.
Egan headed home to Shreveport to join a regional rock band, A-Train, then returned to Nashville to tour with country-Cajun vocalist Jo-El Sonnier. In 1990, he moved back to Louisiana, settling in Lafayette and joining up with the Cajun rock group Filé. During this time, British rocker Joe Cocker recorded his song "Please No More" for his 1991 album Night Calls. That blockbuster album sold millions of copies, and Egan was riding high on the hog for a time. Etta James recorded the same song for her Grammy-winning 2004 release, Let's Roll.
Egan went back to touring around Louisiana and Texas with Filé, but left the group in 2003 after releasing his debut album, Twenty Years of Trouble. The recording, issued on Rhonda Sue/Louisiana Red Hot Records, showcased his spry, inventive songwriting methodology, great voice, and super-dexterous piano playing, all in a blues and soul-blues vein. The album won Offbeat magazine's Best of the Beat award in the singer/songwriter category in 2003. In 2008, he followed up with another sterling recording of his distinctive, wide-ranging piano blues and Americana-styled originals, You Don't Know Your Mind, which he released independently. Not surprisingly for a musician who spent the bulk of his career accompanying and supporting other musicians, Egan's albums under his own name are precious few. As a keyboardist, he contributed to the work of many artists and groups, including the aforementioned A-Train, Filé, and Jo-El Sonnier as well as the Cajun All-Stars, Lil' Band o' Gold, and blues and roots rockers Buddy Flett and C.C. Adcock.
When all is said and done, it's Egan's songs that separated him from the rest of the pack of piano players. Since so many of his songs were successful, he wasn't under any pressure to be out on the road constantly. Those in the know in the blues community put Egan in the same league with the great songwriters like Doc Pomus, Allen Toussaint, Bobby Charles, Dan Penn, and Dr. John. Irma Thomas performed his "Sing It One More Time Like That" (from an album with Tracey Nelson and Marcia Ball) at a televised White House concert and John Mayall sang his "Wake Up Call" on the PBS-TV program Austin City Limits. A comedic novelty song Egan wrote while in college, "When I Was a Dinosaur," was recorded by former Lost in Space star Bill Mumy and the Arkansas-based folk-rock duo Trout Fishing in America. A self-titled solo album and live recording appeared in 2013. On March 18, 2016, Egan died from complications of lung cancer at his home in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was 61 years old. ~ Richard J. Skelly