Originally scheduled for November 1, 2009, to coincide with the release of my book, Leroy 'Hog' Cooper on Sax, I have run into some minor problems. As a result, I expect o celebrate Leroy's life and career in early 2010.
I have been fortunate enough to locate a photo-journalist that knew Leroy in the '70s in Europe. Leroy was touring with Ray Charles at the time and the band returned to Europe annually. Val Wilmer and Leroy become strong acquaintances during those visits. In fact, I remember Leroy telling me that Val was one of the writers and photographers that took a particular interest in him, as opposed to other members of Ray Charles' band, and wrote articles about him. He specifically remembered her writing one for a publication named Melody Maker.
Val has chosen to be the last person to use a computer as her primary means of communicating. In fact, she does not have an email address or website, so finding her was a challenge. With the help of a researcher and musical archivist, Joel Dufour, I finally reached Val by way of cables under the 'pond' or through some complicated satellite device orbiting the earth. Val has provided me with some new (old, really, but new to me) photos and articles about Leroy. I feel that her contributions add enough value to the book to continue our mutual pursuit in preserving Leroy Cooper's memory.
Additionally, I have had the opportunity to speak to one of Leroy Cooper's high school teachers, Myrtle Sloane. We spoke once and she remembers Leroy. I am hoping to interview her in upcoming weeks.
As more information has become available, my decision was to postpone publication until all avenues and resources had been exhausted. It is important to me that this book provide a complete chronicle, or as close as possible, of Leroy's life story. There is so much I will never know that I can't share with the world, but every little piece of the puzzle adds more depth to his character and I don't want any of it to be lost.
Joel Dufour has sent me some detailed information about some of the musicians Leroy played with during his career. The humility that Leroy displayed prevented him from describing himself in terms of some of the great blues musicians that others in his field would want to learn about.
Deadlines can be moved. Tributes can be delayed. For the sake of my subject, it seems important to do both.