Floyd Soileau remains at a loss to explain the undying popularity of "Don"t Mess with My Toot." But the record producer is not turning down the royalty checks.

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In 1985 the late Rockin" Sidney Simien recorded "My Toot" in zydeco a South Louisiana Creole accordion dance music that most of the world had never heard. The song broke out of Soileau"s tiny Maison de Soul studio in Ville Platte Louisiana to become a multi-million selling international craze.

 

Soileau said the song became a runaway train--and he"s still enjoying the ride.

 

"It was a novelty song with a happy beat" said Soileau. "The little kids would dance to it grandma and grandpa would dance to it. It was everywhere. It was a humongous hit in the Latino market. Just five years ago I went to Vegas to get an award for being one of the top 20 Latino songs in the country. It"s still popular there.

 

"A few years ago the Scandinavian market asked to do a translation. They did a single release and sold over 300000 copies of it. In Germany it is still popular. It was so hot when Sidney"s "Toot" was out there we had a beer company that licensed the song to sell their beer for a year and a half. That"s almost unheard of.

 

"The only reason it didn"t go longer I think they changed agencies. Otherwise it was still kicking."

 

Memories and royalty checks are still kicking for "My Toot" which was first recorded overnight in Rockin" Sidney"s home studio. After becoming wildly popular locally the song became a radio and record store hit east of the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge and New Orleans then-rare feats for a zydeco record.

 

"Toot" was soon leased to Colombia Records for national distribution. The tune leaped into country music"s Top 20 and clocked it"s first million in sales. Simien enjoyed music celebrity appearing on "Hee Haw" "Austin City Limits" and other national TV programs.

 

Other artists cashed in. Jean Knight Denise LaSalle Fats Domino Doug Kershaw and John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame recorded cover versions.

 

Some scored hits but none as big as the popular Colombian group La Sonora Dinamita. They achieved million sellers with two spanish versions "Tu Cucu" in 1988 and "No provoques my pichichi" in 1989.

 

Throat cancer claimed Simien in 1998 yet his legacy remains unchallenged. "Toot" still stands as zydeco music"s lone million seller.

 

Such fortune is ironic for a song originally buried on the B side of Rockin" Sidney"s album "My Zydeco Shoes Got the Zydeco Blues."

 

Terrance Simien zydeco"s two-time Grammy winner believes timing was a big factor for "Toot." In the 1980s "The Big Easy" movie chef Paul Prudhomme"s blackened redfish craze and other cultural exports stoked the world"s love affair with all things Louisiana.

 

Soileau said the song"s title sparked people"s imagination.

 

"The name itself was a mystique" said Soileau. "I remember Ralph Emery asking Sidney on TV "What is a toot toot?" He said "It"s a hit record". That got a lot of laughs.

 

"He went on to explain it"s a Cajun Creole saying for a little baby a girlfriend or a sweet person that you love. That went over well with the fans because at first a lot of people thought it was a riqsue" record. But it had nothing to do with that.

 

"But it was on the border of the question mark. Maybe that added to the speculation. But the main thing when he started off with that bass beat you could tell what was coming on."

 

In the three decades since "My Toot Toot" zydeco is alive and well with artists performing locally and globally and winning Grammys. But no other song from the genre has come close to gold record status.

 

Many musicians dream of scoring zydeco"s next worldwide hit but Soileau said many obstacles lie ahead.

 

"We"re going to have to have the right recipe. Zydeco always has infectious beat but if it doesn"t have the song to match it I don"t think it can happen. What"s going to make a big difference now is marketing. There were so many brick and mortar stores. We weren"t depending on the internet. There were 1300000 jukeboxes. That made it a million seller right there if you had the right stuff.

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"Today we don"t have jukeboxes. Today the big guys have trouble getting a million seller. For another zydeco song to do a million seller it"s not impossible. But it"s very hard to do compared to 30 years ago. You never say never because this was unexpected. We didn"t know this was going to happen."

 

Herman Fuselier is a music writer and broadcaster living in Opelousas Louisiana. His Zydeco Swamp radio show airs from 12-3 p.m. Central on KRVS 88.7 FM and www.krvs.org.