Malcolm John Rebennack, better known as Dr. John, passed away of cardiac issues on May 6th, he was 77. He was active in music beginning in the late 50s and became popular in the creative explosion of the 60s combining elements of his Third Ward New Orleans roots with psychedelic rock. His 1968 album Gris-Gris premiered his Dr. John persona and drew on elements of voodoo, Mardi Gras Indian culture, medicine shows, and New Orleans R & B.
The album quickly grew him a cult following which included musicians like Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger. They and others guested on his follow up albums, which he toured broadly from his home base in Los Angeles. In 1972 Dr. John scaled back the psychedelia and drew on the New Orleans R & B of his youth for his classic album Gumbo, which gave him a hit with “Iko, Iko”. He was deeply involved in the New Orleans Funk scene of this period. In 1973 he had his biggest hit with “Right Place, Wrong Time”.
In the decades that followed he never stopped working. He became known as an ambassador of New Orleans music, collaborating extensively with other musicians from the Crescent City and on countless projects requiring that special New Orleans feel.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which will change its name this month after being acquired by the New Orleans Advocate, has drawn on their over 50 years of coverage of Dr. John in an excellent series of remembrances which can be read here: Support Local Press.