Stanley Dural, Jr., who, using his stage name of “Buckwheat Zydeco,” was a global ambassador for the Louisiana music genre of zydeco, died this morning (Sept. 24). He was 68.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer this summer, and a gofundme page was set up to help raise funds for his treatment, making nearly $20,000 of its goal of $50,000. It was a recurrence of the disease that first sidelined him in 2013.

"It's a tough one for us and the entire Zydeco community and the greater music community," family friend Dustin Cravins told "Words like legend and icon are tossed around so much these days that it almost sounds water downed, but he was the true definition of it."

Born in Lafayette, La., in 1947, Dural picked up the nickname of “Buckwheat” in his youth due to his resemblance to the Little Rascals character. He started out on piano, then moved to organ and led his own funk band in the early ‘70s. After their breakup, he joined up with Clifton Chenier, arguably the most important name in the history of zydeco, and eventually moved to the accordion. He stepped out on his own, calling himself “Buckwheat Zydeco” and fronting his own group, in 1979.

For nearly a decade, they recorded for small labels and toured relentlessly with an energetic live show. This attracted the attention of Island Records, who signed him — the first zydeco act to be on a major label — and released On a Night Like This in 1987. A year later, they toured with Eric Clapton, who also played guitar on a cover of Derek and the Dominos’ “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad” from Taking It Home.

Over the course of the next 30 years, Dural toured the world became the go-to name for musicians looking to add some authentic Louisiana heat to their sound. In addition to Clapton, he recorded and/or performed with such names as Robert Plant, Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, U2, Paul Simon, Warren Haynes and Mavis Staples. His final album, 2009’s Lay Your Burden Down, won a Grammy for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album.

He is survived by Burnite Dural, his wife of more than 40 years, and their five children, Sir Reginald M. Dural, Stanley Paul Dural III, April Germain Dural, Stacie Durham and Tomorrow Lynn Dural.

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