Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., the accordionist, organist, singer and songwriter who, as Buckwheat Zydeco, championed traditional southwest Louisiana Creole dance music on the world stage, died early Saturday morning of lung cancer at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette. He was 68.
His longtime manager, Ted Fox, confirmed his death.
Dural’s zydeco was firmly rooted in the dancehalls of his native Lafayette, but not confined to them. His ambition and reach were much broader.
His performance during the 1996 Summer Olympics closing ceremony was broadcast to a television audience reportedly in the billions. He was featured at both of President Bill Clinton’s inauguration celebrations. In February 2014, Jimmy Fallon selected him to open the final episode of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”; the host gleefully strummed a guitar alongside Dural’s glittering accordion.
He broke new ground for zydeco, both stylistically and commercially. In 1987, Island Records, home to the likes of U2 and Bob Marley, released Buckwheat Zydeco’s Grammy-nominated “On a Night Like This,” the first zydeco album on a major label. More recently, the globe-trotting Dural was the first zydeco bandleader with his own YouTube channel, Buckwheat’s World.