In 1971, he founded Buckwheat & the Hitchhikers, a funk band that he led for five years before switching to zydeco. He began backing Clifton Chenier, one of the most legendary zydeco performers. He set out on his own with The Ils Sont Partis Band; they debuted with One for the Road in 1979 and were nominated for a Grammy for Turning Point and Waitin' for My Ya Ya after switching to the Rounder record label. He soon signed to Island Records, the first zydeco act on a major label, and released On a Night Like This, critically acclaimed album that was nominated for a Grammy as well. The band soon appeared in The Big Easy.
During the 1990s, Buckwheat Zydeco was less commercially successful than before, and switched labels constantly. They remain a popular live draw, and continue recording.