R&B funk mainstay backed Dr. John

Drummer Herman “Roscoe” Ernest III, a mainstay of the New Orleans R&B and funk scene, died March 6 at his Louisiana home. He was 59.

Ernest had been suffering from cancer for two years, according to Crescent City photographer Erika Goldring.

He anchored Dr. John’s band for more than two decades and appeared on the singer-pianist’s albums “The City That Care Forgot,” “Mercenary,” “Duke Elegant,” “Creole Moon,” “Anutha Zone” and “N’Awlinz: Dis, Dat or D’Udda.” Ernest last performed with the bandleader at Tipitina’s on Dec. 30.

He recorded behind such local notables as Lee Dorsey (on the Allen Toussaint-produced “Night People”), the Neville Brothers (on their breakthrough “Fiyo on the Bayou”), Irma Thomas, Aaron Neville, Snooks Eaglin, Johnny Adams, Anders Osborne and Al “Carnival” Johnson. In 2006, he sat in with the band Cowboy Mouth on their post-Katrina set “Voodoo Shoppe.”

Ernest also backed Solomon Burke during his stay at New Orleans’ Black Top Records and appeared on LaBelle’s 1974 album “Nightbirds,” which spawned the Toussaint-produced hit “Lady Marmalade.”

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