Home of the Live Music Calendar Follow STLBlues on Twitter Follow STLBlues on Facebook Home of the Live Music Calendar Live Music Is Better, Book It Here!! Live music is better, book yours now!
Gatemouth Brown Needs A Gravestone

Gatemouth BrownOnly a few select people on the Gulf Coast know where legendary Country-Blues musician Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's grave is. That's because, as the Beaumont Enterprise reported last week, it's unmarked.

That's right, one of the most important, influential Blues musicians (and a Grammy winner to boot) is currently buried sans headstone at the Hollywood Cemetery in his native Orange, Texas. Brown was actually born across the Sabine River in Vinton, Louisiana, but his family moved to Orange when Brown was a newborn. Brown also died there, at his niece's apartment in September 2005, after leaving the Port Arthur hospital where he had undergone angioplasty surgery.

Now Robert Finch, director of special education for the Little Cypress-Mauriceville school district, has set up a fund to pay proper postmortem tribute to Brown. Finch also hopes the Texas Historical Commission will approve the placement of a historical marker at the gravesite.

Finch has set up a non-profit group to raise money for a tombstone and hopefully a state historical marker. He ultimately would like to see a statue of Brown in the cemetery. Three jars of grape jelly, labels faded in the sun, recently marked Gatemouth's surface concrete box in Hollywood Cemetery, a single, long-stemmed artificial rose placed between the jars. Maybe the jars were left because he always liked grape jelly. Maybe it was because he played a song called "Grape Jelly."

Bobby Brown, 73, Gatemouth's only surviving sibling, said his brother's four children and three ex-wives are spread across the country and haven't visited Orange since the funeral. The estate and music royalties still haven't been settled, he said. Bobby Brown still lives in Orange and is helping Finch with the quest to mark Gatemouth's grave.

Gatemouth lost everything he owned to Hurricane Katrina, including his house in Slidell, Louisiana, on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and his beloved 1977 black Cadillac. Gatemouth had evacuated to Orange the day before Katrina. He died at Bobby's granddaughter's apartment in Orange on September 11, 2005, less than two weeks after Katrina. He had lung cancer and heart disease.

Even in death he couldn't escape hurricanes. Rita blew away his temporary marker and flowers as the eye passed over Orange a week after his funeral.

Last year Finch read on a CD jacket that Gatemouth was buried in Orange. Finch has lived in Orange 29 years and didn't know Gatemouth was from Orange. When he went to look at Hollywood Cemetery, he couldn't find the grave. That started him on the quest. He had a small plastic plaque engraved and placed at the concrete box.

Finch also contacted Dr. Howard Williams, a local physician who has written two books of Orange County history. Williams chairs the Orange County Historical Commission, which applies for state historical markers. Williams has begun the process of trying to get special permission for a state marker for Gatemouth. Williams also pledged $100 toward getting a tombstone.

Bob Brinkman of the Texas Historical Commission in Austin said the committee will meet next week to decide whether to give special clearance for an early historical marker for Gatemouth.

Donations may be made to:
Gatemouth Brown Memorial Committee
Sabine Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 3000
Orange, TX 77631-3000
acct #1892149

Thank you, Mr. Finch.

Above item courtesy of: Houston Blues Society, The Houston Press, The Beaumont Enterprise|

 Live Music Calendar | Send Blues News | © STLBlues 2000 | Privacy Policy