Dr. John Dies at 77


Dr. John (1941–2019)

(Photo: Bruce Weber)

New Orleans icon Dr. John has died. According to a statement released by his family, he suffered a fatal heart attack on June 6. He was 77.

The multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, who won six Grammy awards during his long career, forged a unique style that blended elements of rock, jazz, blues, r&b, funk and other genres.

In 1973, Dr. John scored pop hits with “Right Place, Wrong Time” and “Such A Night.”

Dr. John won a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category for his 2009 album City That Care Forgot.

He was a frequent performer at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where generations of fans revered him.

Sales from his 2005 Blue Note album, Sippiana Hericane, benefitted the New Orleans Musicians Clinic.

Born Malcolm John Rebennack, and known as “Mac,” he enjoyed regional hits in New Orleans before before moving in 1965 to Los Angeles, where he reinvented himself as “Dr. John The Night Tripper.” In his 1994 autobiography, Under a Hoodoo Moon, he wrote, “For many years I had nurtured my little idea of forming a musical group around the personality of Dr. John, a larger than life figure and medicine man who claimed to have been a prince in Senegal before he was abducted and taken to Cuba. In Cuba he had gained freedom and shipped out around the world as a sailor, eventually settling in New Orleans.”

Check back with DownBeat for a full obituary. DB

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