Tuesday 20 August 2019

Music world mourns as Dr John dies aged 77

Heart attack: Dr John won six Grammy awards
Heart attack: Dr John won six Grammy awards

Billy Trott

Dr John, a six-time Grammy winner who in his incarnation as the 'Night Tripper' brought the New Orleans voodoo vibe to America's music scene, died on Thursday at age 77.

The New Orleans native, born Malcolm John Rebennack into a family of amateur musicians, including an aunt who taught him to play piano, died "towards the break of day" from a heart attack, his family announced on his official Twitter account.

Immersed in music from a young age, he was an avid radio listener, and his father, who sold records in his appliance store, sometimes took his son along to nightclubs when he worked on their sound systems.

By the time he was a teenager, Rebennack was playing in rough bars and strip clubs. Along the way, he absorbed a blend of rhythm and blues, cowboy songs, gospel and jazz, as well as New Orleans' Mardi Gras music, boogie, barrelhouse piano and funk - or "fonk", as he pronounced it.

After working as a studio musician for everyone from Sonny and Cher to the Monkees, Dr John recorded his first album, 'Gris-Gris', in 1968 with the help of several New Orleans natives.

He went on to record some 35 albums, and three of them won Grammys - 'Goin' Back to New Orleans' for best tradition album in 1992; 'City That Care Forgot' about the destruction and heartbreak of Hurricane Katrina; and 2013's 'Locked Down', which touched on his prison time, drugs and his relationship with his children.

Dr John was married twice and told the 'New York Times' he had "a lot" of children.

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

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News