Above: Frenchie Burke in a showbiz moment.
Fiddlin' Frenchie Burke, one of the icons of Houston's "Urban Cowboy" craze of the late '70s, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain aneurysm yesterday in San Antonio, according to information on fellow fiddler Jody Nix's Facebook page.
Known for his hugely popular 1974 regional hit "Big Mamou" (or "Big Mammou"), Burke held down long residencies at several Houston clubs like the Winchester during the late '70s and early '80s, and continued to perform locally for many years before moving to Lytle, Texas, southwest of San Antonio. There, a music festival bearing his name celebrated its 10th anniversary this past May.
Burke began his professional career with Johnny Bush, and also toured with Ray Price and Little Jimmy Dickens. Waylon Jennings also cut a version of "Big Mamou," written by Link Davis, that appeared on several of his albums.
Burke, who was born in Kaplan, Louisiana, settled in Houston after a stint in the Air Force. Like another Urban Cowboy icon, Mickey Gilley, Burke supported his music habit with a day job as a machinist along the Ship Channel until he finally was finally able to make a living out of his music.
Having already survived a bout with cancer, Burke had a hip replacement just last year after suffering through years of pain and mounting medical costs. Several musicians, including Houston's Miss Leslie and "Blackland Farmer" singer Frankie Miller, played a fundraiser in Pearland last August to help the ailing musician.
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