“Bye-Bye. I’m gone.”
So sang Paul “Lil’ Buck” Sinegal in a video recorded at KRVS 88.7 FM that was posted Monday on social media by Frank & Tony Productions.
It was one of many tributes, reminiscences and stories on Facebook as word spread about the death of the 75-year old Lafayette blues and zydeco guitarist who was found in his home on Monday.
The post was one that touched that poignant, if not melancholic, nerve that surfaces in such times. In it, you hear Lil Buck sing, you hear him playing the guitar, which he did so well, yet, all the while you know you’ll never see him do either again.
“It’s some bad news," Major Handy said Monday afternoon. "I went to his house this morning and knocked on his door. I called him twice and he didn’t answer, so I went by his house when I was passing by. I knocked on the door and he didn’t answer, but he was in there.
“I definitely didn’t go in. He didn’t answer the door.”
So Major left the house but in short time got a call from Buck’s son, Greg, and learned of the death of his friend and music peer.
“He went over there and found his dad dead on the floor,” said Major. “You never know, man. I knew he was suffering with that rotator cuff, but I don’t think that kills anybody.”
Major, 72, did have concerns about Buck and noticed somewhat of a decline in his health.
“He’d stop eating. His nutrition was low,” Major said. “He didn’t want to eat. He was never hungry. He was losing weight.”
As it happened, when Buck joined Major’s band in late May for a gig at the Paragon Casino in Marksville, “He played with me but didn’t play,” Major sighed. “He couldn’t really play that much, but he played.”
Then Major heard from Becky Schexnayder, who “called and asked me if I could take his place because he could not play anymore,” he said.
In addition to the rotator cuff, which was scheduled for surgery mid-June, “a fused disc in his neck,” said Major, “was hurting, too.”
Not that anyone outside of Buck’s close circle of friends would’ve known.
“He was never a guy to complain about anything,” Major said. “You know what I’m saying? He never complained. He was just there.”
However, “when he started to complain about it, I was surprised,” said Major. “When he complained, it was for real. It was bad. By the time he was complaining, it was bad.”
Major and Buck, both blues and zydeco musicians extraordinaire, played and recorded together for years.
“Oh, man, the 60’s maybe; 70’s,” Major said. “I’ve known Buck a long time. He was a good, good soul. He didn’t have an evil bone in his body. And funny. When he got to talking and joking, he was funny. He was like kin to me.”
Buck played with everyone. He was a sessions musician at Excello Records and in the bands of Clifton Chenier, Rockin’ Dopsie and Buckwheat Zydeco, to Lee Dorsey, Carol Fran, Joe Tex, and, of course, Lil’ Band o’ Gold, to name a few. Buck and Charles “C.C” Adcock formed Cowboy Stew Blues Revue.
“He was everywhere,” said Major. “He was well-liked.”
Major said Buck and “Charles Adcock were tight,” and that the two, with Barbara Lynn and Tommy McClain were set to play Antone’s in Austin at the end of June.
“He had that gig. He was seeing if he would be able to do that,” said Major.
Buck was a regular at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with many of the aforementioned groups. In April, Sinegal collected a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ICON Arts and Culture Awards at the Acadiana Center for the Arts and appeared in “I Am the Blues,” a 2015 documentary film.
And he had his own band, Lil’ Buck and the Top Cats. They had regional hits with “Monkey in a Sack” and “Cat Scream.”
Buck played on Major’s latest release, “Zydeco Soul” and when he did, he brought the “Blues, the whole operation,” said Major. He also left out something, too.
“Nothing negative. He wasn’t a guy of a lot of words,” Major said. “He was a pretty quiet. But when he played, man, he gave it his all. He was always energetic when he played.”
Buck’s death comes on the heels of New Orleans icons Dr. John and the “Queen of Creole Cuisine” Leah Chase, as well as Cajun musicians, Andrew Cormier Sr. and Gurvais Matte, and another guitar player, Spencer Bohren.
“Those guys been rolling for a long time,” said Major.