This past Saturday, legendary bluesman and longtime local music fixture Musi "Big Poppa E" Faisal died suddenly after suffering an apparent heart attack, according to Tobacco Road's Oski Gonzalez. He was 64 years old.
"I might be the hardest working blues man in the whole South," Faisal quipped in a New Times interview last year. And we always believed him.
Poppa held several weekly residencies across South Florida, playing anywhere between four and six gigs a week, building a dedicated following along the way.
"A lot of people dug his music," Oski says. "And he had incredible swag."
The two men met at Tobacco Road six years ago. At the time, Faisal was performing under the simple stage alias E, much to the dismay of The Road's DJ and head promoter.
"His music was incredible, and he was a cool cat," Oski says. "I was blown away, but I told him that the name [E] sucked."
For Oski, E wasn't bluesy enough for a musician as accomplished as Faisal. Before landing at Tobacco Road, Faisal had developed his musical chops playing alongside some of the greatest musicians of all time, such as Bill Withers, John Prine, and Tina Turner, to name a few.
"[E] is not a name for a bluesman," Oski remembers telling Faisal. "You're Big Poppa E." The name stuck. And like his music, it'll live on forever.
Big Poppa E's funeral will be held this afternoon at the Muslim Cemetary of South Florida. Then on Labor Day, Tobacco Road will host a tribute to his life and music.
Rest in peace, Poppa.
Musi "Big Poppa E" Faisal's Funeral. Thursday, August 30. Muslim Cemetary of South Florida, 17551 NW 137th Ave., Hialeah Gardens. Services begin at 4:15 p.m.
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A Tribute to the Life and Music of Big Poppa E. With the E Band, Felipe Lamoglia, Jowee Omicil, and Papa Joe. Monday, September 3. Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave., Miami. The tribute begins at 8 p.m. Call 305-374-1198 or visit tobacco-road.com.