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Lester “Pe-Te” Johnson, a Cajun barbecue restaurant buyer who additionally hosted a accepted radio appearance featuring Cajun and zydeco music for about four decades, died Saturday. He was 85.
Johnson’s show, “Pe-Te’s Cajun Bandstand,” aired for about 39 years on KPFT 90.1, arena from 6 to 9 a.m. anniversary Saturday. Until 2005, he operated Pe-Te’s Cajun Barbecue House, a admired alliance atom for astronauts and pilots amid beyond from Ellington Acreage and abreast Johnson Amplitude Center.
A active and quick-witted Louisiana built-in whose appellation came from the French chat “petite,” or small, Johnson was 5’5 and, by all accounts, abounding of energy. He would deathwatch at 3:30 a.m. every Saturday to drive from his Friendswood home to the KPFT flat in Montrose for his three-hour show, a ample block of which was adherent to song requests from listeners. Some astronauts who frequented Johnson’s restaurant or appeared on his radio appearance accept played tapes of the appearance in space.
Johnson’s massive restaurant, which included a well-used ball hall, drew barter from all over the region, from Conroe to Angleton, with absolute families generally bottomward in, according to a 2005 Houston Press story.
“People airing in actuality and abatement in adulation with the place,” an bearding Houston man said in a 1996 Chronicle story. “They can’t amount out why, what absolutely the abracadabra is. And I achievement they never do acquisition out what the abracadabra is. If we knew what it was, it ability blemish it.”
Johnson was built-in on Dec. 18, 1934 aloof alfresco Eunice, Louisiana, a baby boondocks northwest of Lafayette.
He was the youngest of bristles accouchement and had a ample connected family, including one grandfathering who affiliated four times and had 21 accouchement and 58 grandchildren, Johnson said in a 2009 University of Houston interview.
Johnson was alert afar afore he affiliated Caroline “Jennie” Johnson in 1964. He is survived by a son and babe from his antecedent marriages. Jennie died in 2013.
During the 1950s, Johnson served in the Air Force and at one point was stationed in Chateauroux, France as an analyst during the Korean War. He accustomed in Houston in 1961, animate aboriginal as an abettor administrator for Wyatt’s Cafeteria and again as a affection ascendancy ambassador in the aliment industry.
The forerunner to Johnson’s barbecue restaurant was a aliment barter that he anchored at aboriginal on the ancillary of FM 2351 abreast Ellington Field. The barter bound admiring business from pilots at Ellington, bidding a abject administrator to appeal that Johnson move his barter afterpiece to the field, according to the 1996 Chronicle story.
After a gas base amid beyond State Highway 3 from Ellington went up for sale, Johnson bought the amplitude and angry it into a barbecue restaurant, which he opened in 1979.
Johnson began his radio appearance a few years later, afterwards a band from a radio base in Alvin chock-full at his restaurant on the way to the Houston Livestock Appearance and Rodeo. A DJ at the station, audition Cajun music arena at the restaurant, asked Johnson to do a appearance on the station. He began the appearance in the aboriginal 1980s and connected it until his death.
In the backward 1990s, then-Houston City Administrator Rob Todd planned — at the appeal of some Clear Lake capacity — to install honorary artery signs for Johnson. The accomplishment was canceled afterwards it came to ablaze that Johnson was confined eight years of deferred acknowledgment for animal corruption of a child. Todd said Johnson told him the allegation was “false,” admitting the administrator said he agreed the signs should not be installed.
As account of Johnson’s afterlife spread, several admirers acquaint on Facebook cogent their acknowledgment for his role overextension Cajun music in the Houston area, with abounding posts accompanied by the words “laissez les bons temps rouler.” The Cajun French byword is a accommodation adaptation of “let the acceptable times roll.”
Asked in the 2009 account what he wants to be remembered for, Johnson said: “I’d like for them to bethink me as I was and what I enjoyed accomplishing to advance the Cajun heritage. If you appetite to do article for me, do it while I’m still alive, don’t delay ‘til I’m 6 anxiety under. Don’t accelerate me no flowers while I’m dead.”
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