Louisiana singer-songwriter Bobby Charles dies at 71

Louisiana singer-songwriter Bobby Charles, who wrote music for the likes of Fats Domino, Billy Haley and the Comets and Joe Cocker, has died at the age of 71.

Louisiana singer-songwriter Bobby Charles, who wrote music for the likes of Fats Domino, Billy Haley and the Comets and Joe Cocker, has died at the age of 71.

Charles, born Robert Charles Guidry in Abbeville, La., died at his home on Thursday, according to his publicist, Karen Johnson.  He had suffered from diabetes and had been in remission from kidney cancer, she said.

"We were very close for 40, 50 years," longtime collaborator and musician friend Dr. John said Thursday, choking up as he spoke.  "He was very easy to work with and a special guy."

Dr. John, whose real name is Malcolm Mac Rebennack, said he and Charles had recently completed work on a new album titled Timeless — a collection of mostly new songs dedicated to Domino and slated for release in late February.

Charles, a lifelong resident of Louisiana, helped pioneer the musical genre known as swamp pop. Though also a singer, he found fame more for his songwriting.

With little commercial success for his own performances, he occasionally drifted away from the music business.

His hits included 1955's See You Later, Alligator — which Charles wrote as a teen and which became a hit recorded by Bill Haley and the Comets a year later — and Walking to New Orleans, written for rock and blues pianist Domino.

His songs also included The Jealous Kind and Tennessee Blues, covered by artists such as Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, Etta James and Kris Kristofferson.

Jim Bateman, who worked as Charles' manager, described the late artist as having a "spiritual" approach to writing music.

"He always said he didn't write songs, they came through him," Bateman said. "I wouldn't necessarily call it religious, but spiritual."

Charles most recently released the album Homemade Songs in 2008.

Funeral arrangements are pending for Charles, who is survived by four sons.

With files from The Associated Press