One of New Orleans’ longest-running rock bands, The Radiators, is calling it quits. The quintet, famous for their gritty “swamp-rock” style and relentless touring, are officially disbanding after 33 years of playing together.
“We can’t think of another band except for one that can make the claim of being together over 33 years and never breaking up or taking time off,” said Radiators singer/guitarist Dave Malone. “The only band that can beat us is Los Lobos.”
The Radiators enjoyed success and longevity on their own terms. They never played the music game. They did things they way they saw fit. But in November of 2010, keyboardist Ed Volker broke the news to his friends in the band that he was ready to throw in the towel.
Malone is grateful the band ended this way. “We’re able to go out in a way that’s sitting well with everyone,” he said. “There are so many things that could have happened that would have been bad.”
The band has embarked on a farewell tour they call The Last Roundup. Fans around the nation have one more chance to catch The Radiators before they resolve their final tour in June with a three night run at Tipitina’s in their hometown, New Orleans.
Fans in South Florida have two opportunities to see them. The Radiators will play Revolution Live and The Green Room on April 8 and 9, respectively. Those attending Wanee Music Festival in Live Oak can catch the group there.
The Radiators started in 1978 in Volker’s garage. It was a casual jam session for Volker, drummer Fran Bua, Jr. and guitarist Camile Baudoin of The Rhapsodizers and Malone and bassist Reggie Scanlan of Roadapple. It was at that jam that The Radiators were born.
Since then, The Radiators have played countless shows and shared the stage with a vast number of rock icons.
“We never reached the level of playing music where we can retire,” said Malone. “From an economic standpoint, we had to keep playing anyways.”
Along the way, The Radiators have jammed with so many other musical luminaries it is difficult to keep track. They’ve played with everyone from Warren Haynes and Bob Weir to Derek Trucks and Maceo Parker.
“We had one night at Jimmy’s Music Club in New Orleans—it was Warren Haynes, Robbie McIntosh, Mark Quinones and Derek Smalls on bass from Spinal Tap,” said Malone. “That was a crazy night.”
Though it is the end for The Radiators, Malone said there is still the possibility of continuing The Radiators tradition with a new keys player. He also mentioned the possibility of working with his brother’s band, The Subdudes, or venturing off into new projects.
“I always thought that at the end of the world there would be roaches and Radiators left,” said Malone. “And maybe Keith Richards.”