Lionel Batiste, the vocalist, bass drummer and assistant leader of the Treme Brass Band who was often featured on HBO’s Treme, has died, the Associated Press reports. The New Orleans musician known as “Uncle Lionel,” who used his drum to stay afloat in the floods after Hurricane New Orleans, was 81 years old.
Fans of the HBO series “Treme” may not have known Batiste by name, but they often saw him close up. He was the skinny guy with the big drum in the band, one of the acts regularly featured on the show …
Batiste, known as “Uncle Lionel,” had been ill for about a month, said band leader Benny Jones Sr. He said Batiste had been with the band since it was formed in 1995, but had played bass drum since childhood …
Batiste used his drum to stay afloat in the floods after Hurricane Katrina, Clarinetist Michael White said.
“The water kept rising,” White said. “He couldn’t swim. The water was too high for him to walk out. He saved himself by floating out on top of his bass drum.”..
“I’m broken-hearted,” said actor Wendell Pierce, who played trombonist Antoine Batiste on “Treme.”
Read more at the Huffington Post.