33. Carrot Top (Tampa, 1998): The first person I ever interviewed at my job at The St. Petersburg Times, was also a fellow redhead. On the phone, we discussed the marginalization of our species, and I had him rate various redheads on whether he believed they represented us well, or poorly. As if he should be the one to judge! Carrot Top still existed in his natural, skinny, awkward state at that time, before he came to look like the Michael Jackson of redheads. Because during the interview we’d discussed weed, I brought some weed over to the performing arts center right behind the newspaper building after Carrot Top’s show a few weeks later. I didn’t attend his show, just popped over after work to shake his hand. I chickened out and kept the weed in my pocket.
34. DJ Paul Oakenfold (New Orleans, 2010): The “world’s most popular DJ” (Guinness World Records) visited VooDoo Fest to play “progressive house,” “progressive trance,” “breakbeat” and “downtempo” and other genres he helped define since the late 1970s. During his lifetime, he also signed DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and Salt-N-Pepa, and acted as an agent for the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC. He met Nelson Mandela and won awards given him by the Queen herself. He scored films including The Matrix Reloaded, Pirates of the Caribbean and Shrek II. And he also met me. I only remember that he said he didn’t like New Orleans’s food. A culinary school graduate, Oakenfold labled the food here “too heavy,” and said that, “There doesn’t seem to be anything new coming out of New Orleans now.”
35. DJ Shadow (New Orleans, 2003): Shadow’s album Endtroducing remains one of my favorites of all time, and so I felt deeply honored to help him set up all his samplers and sequencers before his gig at House of Blues. We watched him practice pieces of a great new routine, where he tapped drum pads that triggered audio samples synched up to video clips that flashed on the giant screen we’d set up behind him.
36. Earl Sweatshirt (New Orleans, 2013): Backstage at Buku Fest, I’d just introduced my friend Chuck D to my friend Big Freedia, and with a big smile I stepped out of P.E.’s tent, directly into Earl Sweatshirt! Though twice his age and melanin deficient, I’d been listening to his music a ton at the time and seeing him got me embarrassingly excited. Also I was a little drunk. I asked to take a photo with him — something I almost never do. Earl mumbled “OK.” But given his body language in the photo, I’ve titled this shot, “Someone Who Hasn’t Yet Learned to Say No.”
37. Ernie K-Do (New Orleans, 2001): The only time I ever met Ernie K-Doe, he was dead. I had just moved to New Orleans a few weeks prior, and someone at my local coffee shop suggested I attend K-Doe’s public funeral at Gallier Hall. K-Doe had recorded New Orleans first ever #1 hit song, “Mother in Law.” Just arrived from Florida, I’d never attended a public funeral. Nor had I heard the term secondline. At Gallier Hall, I stood in line to pay respects at the casket. K-Doe looked a bit like a sleeping Little Richard. He wore a crown and held a scepter. Behind him, a rock n’ roll band played. The frontman placed his foot on the casket while singing. The only food on hand was doughnuts. Over the following years I became genuine friends with his widow Antoinette K-Doe, who continued to run the couple’s Mother-in-Law Lounge until she too died one Mardi Gras day. She told me lots of stories about Ernie. But the only time I met K-Doe, he was dead.
Michael Patrick Welch’s “132 Famous People I Have Met” series is FREE, but please consider donating to his VENMO (michael-welch-42), or to his PayPal account (paypal.me/michaelpatrickwelch2), so he can feed his kids, pay his mortgage, etc.