Brooks was mixing styles early on, as a member of accordionist Clifton Chenier's Red Hot Louisiana Band during the '50s. Chenier's popular formula combined R&B with traditional zydeco fare. Hitting Chicago in 1960, Brooks made a steady living while developing his blues vocabulary by performing covers of hits of the day. The experience no doubt sharpened his sense of what grabs his audience's collective ear. Recorded by several Chicago labels over the years, Brooks's blend of blues, R&B, and bayou rock blossomed on his well-received work for Alligator during the '90s.