Family and friends of Cosimo Matassa and the stars of New Orleans music paid their heartfelt respects to the studio owner and recording engineer Tuesday at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home.
Matassa, a 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and 2007 Grammy Trustees Award recipient who died Thursday at 88, recorded dozens of hits and classics of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s at his three New Orleans studios.
“He was one of the greatest men in this world,” Dave Bartholomew, producer of recordings by Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Earl King and many more, said before the service for Matassa. “He made me welcome to everything he had. We worked together like slaves, and he was always there for me.”
Allen Toussaint, a pianist, producer and songwriter who, like Bartholomew and Matassa, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, first entered Matassa’s studio at 14.
“I came up at Cosimo’s university,” Toussaint said. “I, like everyone else, cut our teeth at Cosimo’s. That was our window and doorway to the world.”
Also attending were Dr. John, another Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, and Earl Stanley, who recorded his early funk classic, “Pass the Hatchet,” at Matassa’s Gov. Nicholls Street studio in 1965.
“If it wasn’t for Mr. Cosimo,” Stanley said before the service, “we’d have music, but it wouldn’t sound like it does. I can’t imagine New Orleans music without him. I can’t imagine me without him.”
Two more Matassa studio veterans, Irma Thomas and Deacon John Moore, as well as former New Orleans City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson and Quint Davis, CEO of Festival Productions Inc., paid their respects during visitation, which ran from 8:30 a.m. until the 3 p.m. service.
Davis said Matassa “was just a humble, beautiful man who had a lot to do with changing the music of the whole world.”
Jason Berry, co-author of “Up From the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music Since World War II,” noted the affection that recording artists and musicians had for Matassa.
“There are plenty of producers whom people don’t like, who have enemies and tracks they’d rather cover up,” Berry said. “But he went through life with a lot of harmony floating around him.”
Mia Matassa, the studio owner’s granddaughter, found seeing so many people whose lives were touched by her grandfather overwhelming.
“I loved him because he’s my grandpa,” she said. “They loved him just as much.”