Descendants of family members and musicians who knew Ardoin tell a story, now well-known, about a racially motivated attack on Ardoin in which he was severely beaten, probably between 1939 and 1949, while walking home after playing at a house dance near Eunice, Louisiana. The most common story says that some white men were angered when a white woman, daughter of the house, lent her handkerchief to Ardoin to wipe the sweat from his face. Canray Fontenot and Wade Fruge, in PBSs "American Patchwork", explain that after Ardoin left the place, he was run over by a Model A car and his head and throat were crushed, damaging his vocal chords. He was found the next day, lying in a ditch.
According to Canray, he "went plumb crazy" and "didn't know if he was hungry or not. Others had to feed him. He got weaker and weaker until he died." Some consider this story apocryphal. Other versions say that Ardoin was poisoned, not beaten, possibly by a jealous fellow musician. Contemporaries said that Ardoin suffered from impaired mental and musical capacities later in his life possibly from that infamous night.
He ended up in an asylum in Pineville, Louisiana. Michael Tisserand in his book The Kingdom of Zydeco concludes that Ardoin probably died in the asylum, though no definitive record of his death exists. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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