|This article is about the Louisiana blues musician.|
You may be looking for a similarly named 2019 box set.
Alvin Snow (also known by his stage name Dyin' Dog) was a Louisiana blues singer and songwriter who briefly worked with guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Roland Sheehan in 1975, recording a series of demos together in the short-lived band Dyin' Dog and the Mongrels.
Much of Snow's life is shrouded in mystery; he disappeared without a trace in January 1976 following a series of personal tragedies which occurred in short succession. Despite the release of a promotional single in 1975, his music lingered in obscurity for decades after his last sighting.
Sheehan rediscovered the demos around 2016, and showed them to The Residents shortly thereafter. The demos inspired the group's 2020 album, Metal, Meat & Bone, which featured covers of the Dyin' Dog songs as well as six newly written songs by The Residents, inspired by Snow.
The original demos were released on Psychofon Records in September 2019 as the limited edition vinyl box set The Residents Present Alvin Snow, aka Dyin' Dog. In July 2020 they were reissued as bonus tracks to Metal, Meat & Bone in all editions.
Alvin Snow was born on Friday, January the 13th of an unknown year (possibly 1938 or 1939, according to Roland Sheehan). An albino Black man with pale blue eyes, Snow was of mixed race heritage, with a white mother and Black father. His life at home was not a happy one, and he left home at an early age, ending up at an orphanage.
By 1974, he lived with a wealthy elderly woman known only as Miss Lillian, and had a dog named Chester, which had crippled back legs and walked with the aid of a cart made by Snow. According to Sheehan, Lillian had lost her only son in World War II and viewed Snow as a surrogate. Snow lived independently on a monthly allowance, and through his habit of charming older ladies; despite this Sheehan felt that Snow genuinely cared for Miss Lillian.
Snow was discovered (and initially mistaken for Johnny Winter) by Roland Sheehan in a little park in Ruston, Louisiana. Sheehan, who had collaborated with the group who would later become The Residents in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was then playing keyboards for The Alliance, and first saw Snow walking down the street, singing a self-written song at the top of his voice in a near-howl.
Sheehan stopped him and despite finding him shy, managed to draw Snow out with the subject of blues music, particularly that of Howlin' Wolf. Soon, the two decided to begin a group. Sheehan pulled together a band, Dyin' Dog and the Mongrels, practicing together at the Gem Theater in Dubach. Sheehan showed a rough demo tape to Stan Lewis, a well-known local record store and label owner who invited the group to record approximately thirteen tracks at Little Studios in Shreveport in 1975. At least one promo single, "Bury My Bone" b/w "River Runs Dry", on the Jewel Records imprint, resulted from these sessions.
In January 1976, Dyin' Dog and the Mongrels were due to perform a showcase (on the 13th - Snow's birthday), however in the weeks before Snow experienced a number of tragic events, beginning with the death of his beloved dog Chester, followed by Miss Lillian on the 10th of January, and then Howlin' Wolf on the same day. Snow promptly disappeared before the performance, never to be heard from again by Sheehan or any other known person.
Rediscovery and release of demos
In 2016, Roland Sheehan found a box in the now-abandoned Gem Theater in Dubach (the group's former rehearsal space), which contained the last known belongings of Alvin Snow, left behind after his disappearance in January 1976. The box contained the Dyin' Dog and the Mongrels demo tapes, as well as a series of Polaroid photos taken by Snow.
Sheehan had recently come back into contact with his former collaborators The Residents after being interviewed for the 2015 documentary film Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents. He showed the demos to the group shortly after discovering them. The Residents had long considered making a blues album of some sort, but had never been able to develop a satisfactory concept to support the idea. The demos ultimately inspired them to record an album of Dyin' Dog covers, entitled Metal, Meat & Bone.
In July 2019, a YouTube user named Charles Burnett posted a recording of the A-side of the Dyin' Dog and the Mongrels promo single, "Bury My Bone", on YouTube. The original Dyin' Dog and the Mongrels demo recordings were finally released in September 2019 on Psychofon Records, as a limited edition set of five 7" records entitled The Residents Present Alvin Snow, aka Dyin' Dog.
In the lead-up to the release of Metal, Meat & Bone, The Residents released two singles from the forthcoming album, "Die! Die! Die!" (featuring guest vocalist Black Francis), and "Bury My Bone", in May and June respectively. The vinyl edition of "Die! Die! Die!" featured the original Dyin' Dog demo of the song as the A-side.
After some delays, The Residents' Metal, Meat & Bone was released in July 2020 on Cherry Red/MVD. A tour planned by the group entitled Dog Stab! was due to begin in April 2020, but was postponed to April 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tour will prominently feature the Dyin' Dog songs alongside tracks from The Residents' 1978 release Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen.
- "Bury My Bone" b/w "River Runs Dry" (1975, promo single)
- The Residents Present Alvin Snow, aka Dyin' Dog 5x7" box set (2019)
- "Die! Die! Die!" (with The Residents) (2020)
- Metal, Meat & Bone - The Songs of Dyin' Dog (with The Residents) (2020)