New Orleans icon and master of jazz, rock n' roll and other genres, Dr John (real name John Rebennack, Jr) died today of a heart attack. He was 77. His family release a short statement earlier today: "Towards the break of day June 6, iconic music legend Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr., known as Dr. John, passed away of a heart attack. The family thanks all whom shared his unique musical journey & requests privacy at this time. Memorial arrangements will be announced in due course." From NOLA.com:
Dr. John, whose given name was Malcolm John Rebennack Jr. and who was also called Mac, was born in New Orleans, a place that schooled him in the jazz, R&B, rock and roll, jump blues, funk and Mardi Gras Indian sounds that would come to shape his music. Mr. Rebennack was a man whose style and outlook were shaped, too, by voodoo, that mysterious and mystical spiritualism that developed from the city’s Afro-Caribbean roots. And in New Orleans, that meant he stood out so much he fit right in...
...His first album, 1968’s aptly-titled “Gris-Gris,” was intended “to keep New Orleans gris gris alive,” he told the magazine. The Mardi Gras, West African and psychedelic chanting sounds were a hit with the long-haired hippies Mr. Rebennack knew in California, and the album ranks on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The album launched a long career in which the Nite Tripper and Mr. Rebennack would converge, most obviously in the man’s New Orleans-centric patois that, when transcribed, may confound an English educator but would delight a listener.
When Wirt, the music writer who interviewed him for an April 2017 story, asked Mr. Rebennack what he hoped to still achieve in his career, he said, “"I’m tripping through the shortcuts of existment to feel it and that’s good."
Dr John, you were one of a kind but you've left us with lots to listen to. Rest in peace.