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ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAMER DR.JOHN HAS DIED!


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Legendary New Orleans musician Dr. John, born Mac Rebennack, dies at 77

 

Jim Cheng, USA TODAYPublished 7:02 p.m. ET June 6, 2019 | Updated 7:54 p.m. ET June 6, 2019

     

 
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Dr John performs on the Miles Davis Hall stage  during

Dr John performs on the Miles Davis Hall stage during the 46th Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 2012. (Photo: JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT/AP)

 

Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John the Night Tripper, brought the bayou to the bandstand and the funk to the masses. His music, spiced with his gravelly vocals, was a gumbo of blues, R&B, rock and with a bit of New Orleans voodoo thrown in for good measure.

Though he didn’t have many hit records, Rebennack, who died of a heart attack Thursday at age 77, was a living symbol of New Orleans and its vast musical heritage.

“You cannot separate Dr. John from New Orleans. He’s like Louis Armstrong. He’s like a cultural ambassador,” music writer Michael Hurtt told the Associated Press in 2005. “He’s basically packaged this culture he came out of with a lot of nuances that are pretty subtle.”

The musician's family confirmed the death in a statement released to the Associated Press and New York Times. A tweet from Dr. John's verified account says, "The family thanks all whom shared his unique musical journey & requests privacy at this time. Memorial arrangements will be announced in due course."

 
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Born in New Orleans, Rebennack was a session musician in the 1950s, playing guitar and bass, later switching to piano after he injured his left ring finger protecting his bandmate, Ronnie Barron, from gunfire.

He grew up surrounded by music. His father’s record store, near Dillard University, carried records by blues, jazz, R&B, gospel and hillbilly artists.

“It was a special time in New Orleans in the ’40s, and I was real blessed,” he told USA TODAY in 2000. "I've always been discouraged by the music that is 'big stuff.' I get disheartened when some young musician says he's learned the blues from the Rolling Stones or Eric Clapton. You got to go back a little further, to the real guys."

Rebennack branched out as a bandleader, breaking out with 1972’s "Gumbo" and 1973’s "In the Right Place." The single "Right Place, Wrong Time" reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, his only Top 10 hit.

He continued his session work, playing piano on such hits as the Carly Simon and James Taylor duet "Mockingbird" in 1974. He also contributed the song "More and More" to Simon’s "Playing Possum" album.

Dr. John performs during halftime of the 2014 NBA All-Star Game at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

Dr. John performs during halftime of the 2014 NBA All-Star Game at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. (Photo: DERICK E. HINGLE/USA TODAY SPORTS)

 

His distinctive voice and style were behind Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits promos as well as the theme song ("My Opinionation") for the ’90s NBC sitcom "Blossom."

Rebennack’s movie credits include Martin Scorsese’s "The Last Waltz," "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Blues Brothers 2000" and Disney's "The Princess and the Frog."

He also wrote and performed the score for the 1982 film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s "Cannery Row."

Although he worked steadily, his record sales were uneven.

"I obviously don't hit with the majority of the public, and I don't think I ever did, and I ain't gonna worry about it too hard," Rebennack told USA TODAY.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Rebennack was outspoken in his criticism of the local and federal government. But he also let his music do the talking.

“We played so many benefits that my band was about to go broke,” Rebennack told the Rocky Mountain News in 2006, noting, “I’m a scuffling musician.”

In September 2005, he performed Bobby Charles’ "Walkin’ to New Orleans," a song made famous by Fats Domino, to close the "Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast" telethon.

In November 2005, he released a four-song EP, "Sippiana Hericane," to benefit New Orleans Musicians Clinic, Salvation Army, and the Jazz Foundation of America.

He joined fellow New Orleans native Aaron Neville, Detroit's Aretha Franklin and a 150-member choir on Feb. 5, 2006, for the national anthem at Super Bowl XL as part of a pre-game tribute to New Orleans.

In 2011, Rebennack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2013 he won his sixth Grammy Award, for blues album "Locked Down." In December 2017, after steadily playing shows for six decades, the musician canceled concerts and then sat out the 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, an event he'd been playing for years.

There's a chance he took a break to go fishing.

"Maybe if I make a whole lot of money, I'll get me an easy-access fishing spot back in New Orleans," he said in 2000. "I like sitting on a boat, just tripping on the water. I don't care if I catch anything. It's my way of meditating." 

His Twitter account says that Rebennack "created a unique blend of music which carried his home town, New Orleans, at its' heart, as it was always in his heart."

Contributing: Edna Gundersen

 
 
In this April 26, 2008 file photo, Dr. John performs during the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans. The family of the Louisiana-born musician known as Dr. John says the celebrated singer and piano player who blended black and white musical influence with a hoodoo-infused stage persona and gravelly bayou drawl, has died. He was 77. A family statement released by his publicist says Dr. John, who was born Mac Rebennack, died early Thursday of a heart attack.
 
 
 
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  • Legendary New Orleans singer and piano man has  died .  His contributions to Rock and Roll are for the ages.
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Oh how I loved Dr. John's music. He was so down, you could never mistake him for anybody else. A unique original artist who was Regional, yet International. 

Ironically one of my favorite songs that he did was from a children's cartoon show: Curious George.

For me his music was always in the right place at the right time.

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Another great contributor to classic American music silenced. An important musician known for his entire body of work, not just "hits".

Dr John is a perfect example of why funerals are a huge celebration in New Orleans - you sing, dance & parade to celebrate his life and all he brought to this world while he was here. Thank you, Dr John, your contributions as a studio musician are always instantly recognizable.

 

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Dr. John also sang "Down in New Orleans," the opening number from Disney's 2009 animated film "The Princess and the Frog." He was backed by the song's composer, Randy Newman, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. It was one of two Newman songs from the movie nominated in the Best Original Song Oscar category (the other was "Almost There").

The main character, Tiana (voiced by Tony Award-winner Anika Noni Rose), was a teen waitress who dreamed of owning her own restaurant someday. She reportedly was modeled after the legendary New Orleans restaurateur and Creole cuisine expert Leah Chase, who died last week at the age of 96.

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Thought I made a thread here 'bout this too, but some of the info in your OP is misstated.

"Dr." John was first heard of (too, in my area via FM "hippie" station WABX) in early '68 with the release of his "Gris-Gris" LP, and known then as "Dr. John the NIGHT TRIPPER." 

And incidentally, five other band members billed themselves as "Dr."  ;)

And like LEON REDBONE, who passed shortly before him, one of the few truly unique musical artists of their time. 

Sepiatone 

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