Queen of Bourbon Street entertainment, Chris Owens, has died

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 2:50 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 9:43 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The legendary Chris Owens has passed away, according to a close family friend.

She suffered a heart attack Tuesday morning in her home.

Owens has been a fixture in New Orleans nightlife since the 1950s. She owned a popular bar on Bourbon Street and organized an annual Easter Parade, which was set to make its post-COVID return in two weeks.

In an impromptu press conference, those who knew Owens best said she would have wanted the show to go on, so they are going to continue with this year’s parade.

Loving, caring and vivacious, those who were closest to her say she was so authentically larger than life.

“She was always that quiet hero from the man on the street, to the child in the hospital, to whatever she was a part of, she gave her life to here on the corner of Bourbon and St. Louis, to everyone,” Owens’ publicist and business manager of 36 years, Kitsy Adams said.

“Somebody who gave me a different side of life that I wasn’t really used to if you knew me five years ago from today, not the same person. Chris had a lot to do with everything that made my life a whole lot better,” Owens’ bodyguard said.

New Orleans leaders and those close to the icon started sharing tributes.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell called her one of the brightest lights of the French Quarter; charismatic, beautiful and iconic.

“Today we mourn the passing of Chris Owens, one of the brightest lights of the French Quarter. The consummate entertainer and the star of her own Bourbon Street nightclub, Ms. Owens was charismatic, beautiful and iconic,” said Mayor Cantrell. “This news is even sadder, as we are just weeks away from the Easter Parade that became her most glorious stage. May she rest in God’s perfect peace.”

Council President Helena Moreno remembered Owens as a tremendous ambassador for New Orleans, an “incredible performer,” and an “absolute icon.”

Rest in Peace, Chris Owens. She was an incredible performer, entrepreneur, and an absolute icon who served as a...

Posted by Helena Moreno on Tuesday, April 5, 2022

The Texas native was visiting her sister in New Orleans at age 20 when she fell in love with the city.

“That was my first look at New Orleans, the most exciting place I’d ever seen in my life,” Owens said. “I came back in the late 50s and met my husband, who was in the automobile business. My whole world changed after that.”

Automobile dealer Sol Owens showed the girl who grew up on a farm near Abilene a life she’d never seen. They traveled the world. Sol died in 1978, but the home they’d made together became the place to be for elaborate events over the decades.

In 2016, Owens invited FOX 8′s Nancy Parker into her home for the holidays.

Queen of Bourbon Street Chris Owens invites us to her home

She regularly donated to charities and organizations anonymously.

Born Christina Shaw, she was one of eight children. Her parents, Fred and Thelma Shaw, depended on the land to care for their family.

“We had horses and cattle and cotton,” she said.

Chris never looked back. She and her husband had a home Uptown but decided to make the Quarter their home and business base.

There will be a vigil open to everyone in front of Chris Owens’ club on Bourbon, Wednesday at 6:30 pm.

The 37th Annual Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade will roll April 17th at 1:00 pm.

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