James Booker's unrelenting piano style made him an important figure in New Orleans music, acting as a major influence on Harry Connick Jr. and Dr. John, among others. Booker was a balanced and versatile pianist and organist -- his repetitive right hand sparkles complemented his awe-inspiring left hand's foundation. In terms of singing, he was no Pavarotti, but his quirky ego and raw, gritty style covered any infirmities. His succinct incorporation of Gospel, R&B and jazz made for a dynamic, personal sound that could make even the same song sound entirely different when Booker reinterpreted himself. In addition to creating his own material, Booker valuably backed Freddy King, Aretha Franklin, T-Bone Walker, Ringo Starr and B.B. King, to name a few. His troubles with the law left us with fewer recordings than we might wish for, but enough to fall in love with his funky, soulful sound.