Photo: Erika Goldring/WireImage
Dr. John, New Orleans Music Legend, Dies At 77
GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter and iconic figure of New Orleans music Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., better known as Dr. John, died on June 6. He was 77.
Dr. John's distinctive funky piano playing and gravelly voice fuzed blues, jazz and R&B into something uniquely New Orleans and uniquely his own. Drawing influence from the likes of Professor Longhair, Louis Armstrong and King Oliver, Dr. John first found success with his 1968 debut album Gris-Gris. He later scored hits with classics such as "Right Place Wrong Time," "Such A Night" and recieved his first career GRAMMY Award at the 32nd GRAMMY Awards in 1989 for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo Or Group for "Makin' Whoopee." with Rickie Lee Jones.
"Mac," as he was often affectionately called, later teamed up with producer Dan Auerbach for Locked Down, which won Best Blues Album at the 55th GRAMMY Awards. Dr. John's most recent of six career GRAMMY wins and 15 nominations.
"Dr. John was a radiant singer, songwriter, and pianist whose career in music made him a New Orleans icon and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer," Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow said in a statement. "His funky approach to blending musical styles and imaginative persona helped diversify the New Orleans Sound, which was on full display during an energetic performance with the Black Keys at the 55th GRAMMY Awards. This is a great loss for our industry and Dr. John will be deeply missed."
God bless Dr. John peace and love to all his family I love the doctor peace and love pic.twitter.com/ljFWmMp9V9
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) June 6, 2019
“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.”
His family confirmed the death in a statement released to the Associated Press and New York Times. According to a tweet from Dr. John's varified account, "The family thanks all whom shared his unique musical journey & requests privacy at this time. Memorial arrangements will be announced in due course."
An ambassador, an innovator and a rebel, Dr. John's memory will live on in the music he made, the countless artists he inspired and the lives he touched.