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Russell Batiste Jr., the Drumming Heartbeat of New Orleans, Dies at 57

Russell did not take long to establish his identity within the family. He started gigging with the Batiste Brothers Band at local clubs when he was 6. “When I was 8 years old, I opened up for the O’Jays and the Drells and the Chi-Lites at City Park Stadium,” he said in a recent interview on the podcast “The Jake Feinberg Show.”

At St. Augustine High School, Mr. Batiste played drums in the school’s nationally famous Marching 100 band.

After graduating in 1983, he enrolled at Southern University at New Orleans, where he studied under the jazz saxophonist Kidd Jordan (who died in April). But he left college after two years to become the drummer for the singer Charmaine Neville (who comes from another New Orleans music family). He joined the Meters, which evolved into the Funky Meters, in 1989.

By that time, however, Mr. Batiste was battling substance abuse, which impeded his career for a time, Damon Batiste recalled. “Imagine being a rock ’n’ roll star, and people loved to be around you and you’re naïve,” his brother said. “He didn’t have his family around him.” Russell found sobriety in the 1990s.

In addition to his brother Damon, Mr. Batiste’s immediate survivors include his father; his mother, Patricia Johnson; his stepfather, Newman Johnson; his sisters, Tasha Batiste, Lakisha Johnson, Monique Santiago, Merinda Bell, Tish Allen, Eboni Batiste and Chanell Batiste; four other brothers, David Guys, Aaron Duncan, Jamal Batiste and Ryan Batiste; his sons, Christopher and Darryl; and a daughter, Nareal.

Considering the family he came from, Mr. Batiste could never have imagined another career, he said late in life. “I was born with a pair of sticks in my hand,” he told Mr. Feinberg.

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