Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet, the former Galactic frontman known for his soulful vocals and powerful stage presence, passed away on Sunday night in New Orleans, the band confirmed via Facebook. DeClouet was 66 years old.
“It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our good friend, mentor, musical collaborator and Galactic vocalist of many years Theryl ‘The Houseman’ DeClouet,” Galactic’s statement reads. “Anyone who was ever in the presence of Houseman knows his inimitable voice, his infectious personality, and his unforgettable storytelling. He taught us so much about life, music, the music business and how to become the men we are now. We will miss him immensely and we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”
“Theryl Houseman DeClouet was co pilot through my early adult years. Sitting next to him in the Galactic van for hours / days / years as we traveled the world together he taught me about life, music and so much more,” Galactic drummer Stanton Moore added on his own social media, along with a photo of him and DeClouet in the band’s van. “Theryl has been like a second father to me and I am so grateful to of had him in my life. I’m going to miss him beyond belief. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. My man, love you House. Rest In Peace my friend.”
“When the band first started, it was all about Houseman,” saxophonist Ben Ellman told Relix in 2007. “The whole band obviously was not from New Orleans so when we got to New Orleans and we started playing with Houseman it was what we were all into – still are – especially when the band first started, he was a huge part of it and a big influence. We’ve always been an instrumental band and Houseman was like a permanent special guest.”
Houseman left the band in 2004 when complications from diabetes forced him to scale back on touring.
“We toured the record pretty heavily before Houseman found out about his diabetes,” Ellman added in ’07. “It came down to just being on the road was not good for him, it was hard for him to take care of himself or eat right out there.”
Still, Houseman’s relationship with his former bandmates remained intact. After Houseman was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, he joined up with Galactic in 2013 to play a benefit show dubbed “Bring the Houseman Home” at Tipitina’s. On the billing, the assembled acts – which also included The Revivalists, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and members of Papa Grows Funk – stated that bringing Houseman back to New Orleans would “further enrich the musical community” because the Crescent City was truly “where he belongs.”
As recently 2016, Houseman sat-in with Galactic at Jazz Fest to sing on the track “Bittersweet,” and at Red Rocks where the group celebrated the 20th anniversary of their debut album Coolin’ Off.
In addition to his work with Galactic, Houseman released two solo records, 2001’s The Houseman Cometh! and 2007’s
The Truth Iz Out. The latter featured instrumentation from Houseman’s longtime friends and NOLA compatriots Ivan Neville of Dumpstaphunk and June Yamagishi of Papa Grows Funk.