A man who left a lasting impression on the music world during his life will make history one more time.
A special ceremony honoring Orange-native, musician and singer Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, will be held at 9 a.m., Saturday, July 21, in Hollywood Cemetery on Simmons Drive in Orange. The public is invited to attend.
Brown, who died in September 2005, had a music career spanning 57 years. He won a Grammy Award in 1982 for traditional blues for the record, “Alright Again,” and was nominated five more times during his career. He recorded albums with iconic artists such as Eric Clapton and Roy Clark and influenced countless musicians such as Frank Zappa, Albert Collins and Johnny “Guitar” Watson to name a few.
Dr. Howard Williams of the Orange Historical Society said the marker has been in place for many months now, but the ceremony is being held in conjunction with the arrival of family members from California.
Williams said Brown’s name has been on the list of projects for some time and the organization is happy Brown is finally getting a marker deserving of his status.
“Mr. Brown is a very worthy candidate for such an honor,” Williams said. “He was very prominent in Orange throughout his life. So many people know who ‘Gatemouth’ Brown is and know his music. Now everyone will know when they see this marker.”
Fellow Orange Historical Society member Betty Harmon concurred.
“There is no doubt that Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown is deserving, above and beyond deserving, of having a historical marker in his honor,” Harmon said. “Port Arthur and Beaumont have so many well-known musicians, but the honors (Brown) has received world-wide surpass many of those not from Orange.”
Brown was known throughout music circles as a talented player. Not only could he play guitar and sing, it was not uncommon for him to play the fiddle, drums, viola, mandolin and even the harmonica.
Although he began his career in rhythm and blues, he expanded his sound and recorded songs in a variety of genres, including country, Cajun, blues and western swing.
Brown was living at his home in Slidell, La. when Hurricane Katrina forced him to evacuate to Orange in August 2005. The storm destroyed his home, which contained his belongings and treasured memorabilia throughout his career.
Already battling cancer and devastated by the loss from the storm, Brown died on Sept. 10, 2005, inside his niece’s apartment in Orange.
He was laid to rest at Hollywood Cemetery in Orange, where a beautiful headstone marks the resting place of the talented musician.