June 6, 2019: Dr. John, New Orleans Music Legend, Dies

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Dr. John

Dr. John, one of music’s true originals, and a six-time Grammy Award-winning pianist, vocalist and composer from New Orleans, died June 6, 2019 of a heart attack. He was 77.

A statement on his Facebook page broke the news:

“Towards the break of day on June 6, 2019, iconic music legend Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr., professionally known as Dr. John, passed away of a heart attack. As a Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductee, six time Grammy winner, songwriter, composer, producer, and performer, he created a unique blend of music which carried his home town, New Orleans, at its’ heart, as it was always in his heart. The family thanks all whom have shared his unique musical journey, and requests privacy at this time. Memorial arrangements will be announced in due course.”

Tributes came from all over. Jazz Fest, which celebrated its 50th festival in 2019, wrote: “We love you and will celebrate all that you gave us.”

Fellow New Orleans musician Aaron Neville shared a heartfelt tribute on his Facebook page. Here’s a portion of it: “My belief is that when people die and go to heaven that what ever was broken, or hurting them is made all better, no more pain.”

Eric Clapton wrote: “OMG, this is unbelievably bad news, he was such a great musician and singer, and most of all a true friend. I am devastated, I thought he would live forever… ec”

In a lengthy tribute on her Facebook page, Rickie Lee Jones wrote, in part: “Good bye Mac. You go now. I’ll holla at you later.”

Dr. John (originally known as Dr. John the Night Tripper) was a singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist who combined blues, pop, jazz as well as zydeco, boogie-woogie and rock ‘n’ roll with his particular Louisiana panache. He was the foremost musical ambassador for New Orleans music whose raw yet pliant vocals powered such classics as “Right Place, Wrong Time,” (a #9 single in 1973) “Such A Night,” “Somebody Changed The Lock” and “St. James Infirmary,” among others.

Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John, was born November 20, 1941, in New Orleans.

In 1989, he was a charter member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

Watch Dr. John perform “Iko Iko” at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1995

Related: Our Album Rewind of 1972’s Dr. John’s Gumbo

Watch Dr. John perform “Such a Night” at The Last Waltz concert in 1976

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