'Creole Beethoven' composer, arranger dead at 81

By the Associated Press | September 7, 2011 | 2:45 PM EDT

New Orleans composer, arranger, bandleader, producer and teacher Wardell Quezergue Sr., seen April 17, 2001 in this file photo, a legend in R&B studios,known as the "Creole Beethoven" died Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011, of congestive heart failure. He was 81. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Chris Granger)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Wardell Quezergue (kuh-ZEHR), the composer and teacher known as the "Creole Beethoven," has died. He was 81.

He died Tuesday.

Songwriter and pianist Allen Toussaint (too-SAHN') gave Quezergue his nickname. He describes Quezergue as a superb musician and band leader who raised the bar in rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll, and who always inspired people to their best performances.

Quezergue's career included arrangements for Army bands, the Dixie Cups and Dr. John. Shortly before his death, he finished recording his newest composition — a setting of the story of Christ's death and resurrection for narrator, instrumentalists, soloists and small chorus.