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Herman Ernest IIINew Orleans funk drumming giant, Herman Ernest III, died of cancer at his home on Sunday, March 6th;  he was 59-years-old.

Ernest, known as "Roscoe" by his peers, was a bigger-than-life character. He referred to his drumming style as "diesel funk." Says Stanton Moore, "[Herman was] one the greatest drummers and one the greatest, funniest people to ever grace the earth."  

For the past 20 years, Ernest was the drummer in Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack's Lower 911 band, appearing on the majority of Dr. John's albums during that time, as well as on numerous other New Orleans artist's recordings. Herman starred, along with Herlin Riley, Johnny Vidacovich and Earl Palmer, on the 2004 instructional DVD, New Orleans Drumming.

In recent years, Herman Ernest III had been frequently hospitalized as he dealt with his battle with cancer. Rebennack always kept the drum chair reserved for Ernest so that he could return to perform with the band when he felt up to it. In his absence, Dr. John would employ one of Ernest's peers, such as Herlin Riley, who filled in at the Howlin’ Wolf just last month.

This past Sunday night, in Massachusetts, Lower 911 dedicated their entire show to Ernest’s memory. Guitarist John Fohl posted on OffBeat.com, "We played a beautiful gig last night with every note and beat played and sung in his honor. He was a mentor, a teacher, a protector, a leader, and a great friend. We all miss him dearly. Lucky for us we have thousands of stories and even more music to remember him with."