Being born and raised in New Orleans has always pretty much guaranteed that someone would be exposed to good music while growing up. In a lot of cases, that in turn led to a musical career like the one enjoyed by Robert Parker, who began as an instrumentalist but later added singing to his act, and had a huge hit in 1966 with his signature song, “Barefootin’.”
Parker first began to show up on the New Orleans music scene in the late 1940s while working with the legendary Professor Longhair. Over the next few years he flashed his sax skills alongside other local stars like Fats Domino, and eventually began breaking out as a solo artist too. He also hit the recording studio and enjoyed a minor hit with “All Night Long” in 1958.
By the 1960s he’d added singing to his performances, and as his popularity grew he recorded a song he wrote that would become his biggest hit, “Barefootin’.” Although he wasn’t able to hit those heights with subsequent records, he did make quite a few good ones, among them “Get Ta Steppin’,” “Skinny Dippin’,” and “Tip Toe,” all of which played into his signature style.
As the years passed Parker found that he was more popular in Great Britain, where he often toured and performed for appreciative fans. Although his career eventually wound down, he has remained for many years a popular part of the New Orleans night life, appearing from time to time in area nightspots and music festivals. But he still ventures out sometimes too — just a couple of years ago he appeared (at age 79) on stage at Lincoln Center in New York, but he probably kept his shoes on.