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Living Legends

Stanley Gagneaux *
Inducted on November 02, 2002

Stanley Gagneaux * Gagneaux was born September 10, 1935. Married to the former Loretta Hebert, Gagneaux went to school in Abbeville until the 10th grade. Like many other Cajun children, he began grade school speaking only French and was forced to learn English. When he spoke his native tongue in public schools, he was punished. He worked as a dairyman in Vermilion Parish and later in life he operated the now defunct Banker Ferry for 13 years.

His influence to Cajun music came by way of his parents, who were farmers. His mother like to sing Cajun tunes and his father played the accordion. He would sneak into his father’s bedroom and attempt to play the accordion. With little money in those days, he would go outdoors and with an old piece of wood and would pretend to play the accordion.

Gagneaux well recalls the ‘Soiree’ or Bal de Maison’ when he was a child listening to a small group of 2 or 3 Cajun musicians playing late into the night in a neighbors home. There was dancing and storytelling throughout the house while ice cream was served for those hot summer evenings. House dances usually started around seven and ended near midnight.

Gagneaux began to appreciate the Cajun music and by listening to the radio and playing old 45 rpm records, he became a self taught accordion player.

He formed a band called Stanley Gagneaux and the Town & Country Playboys. His first dance was at the old Halfway Club between Abbeville and Kaplan. In Louisiana, he has performed at: Smileys, Reno Club, Jolly Inn, Guiding Star, Mabel’s, Sunset Lounge, Vermilionville, and the Abbeville Omelette Festival. A man who did not like to travel, he limited his out of state tours to Dallas, Texas.

Due to problems with diabetes and arthritis, Gagneaux is now retired and cannot play his Cajun music more than a few minutes.

In his younger days, he enjoyed visiting schools and nursing homes and performing for the people who enjoyed his music. When visiting schools in the 90’s, he appreciated how the young kids enjoyed to hear and to dance to Cajun music; a drastic change from what he witnessed the late 50’s.

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