Dr. John

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Essential Albums

  • Desitively Bonnaroo
  • In the Right Place
  • Dr. John's Gumbo
  • Gris-Gris

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About Dr. John

No performer embodies the deeply funky, audaciously swinging spirit of New Orleans music more than singer/songwriter/pianist Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John. Born in The Big Easy in 1941, Rebennack dropped out of high school to gig tirelessly and record as a guitarist—before losing the use of a fretting finger in a gun fight and making the switch to piano. Following two years in jail on a heroin charge, Rebennack moved to Los Angeles, where he joined fabled studio sessioneers The Wrecking Crew. His 1968 debut, Gris-Gris, introduced his alter ego, Dr. John the Night Tripper, a beaded and befeathered hybrid of voodoo exoticism and Big Easy conviviality. After four albums of cult-pleasing swampadelic soul, he returned to his roots in 1972 with Dr. John's Gumbo, a stirring celebration of his hometown's keyboard-centric rhythm-and-blues tradition. The following year, he shrewdly hired preeminent Nawlins instrumental quartet The Meters for an album containing his biggest hit, the classic-rock standard "Right Place Wrong Time." His distinctive growl graced memorable commercials (notably, Louisiana mainstay Popeye's) and sitcom themes (including Blossom), and inspired Dr. Teeth, leader of Muppets house band the Electric Mayhem. In later years, he filled albums with the more than 115 songs he co-wrote with Brill Building legend Doc Pomus and provided voodoo vibes for projects by Spiritualized and Gregg Allman. In 2014, Dr. John brought it all back home in celebration of New Orleans jazz pillar Louis Armstrong on Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch, his final album before his death in 2019.

New Orleans, LA, United States
November 20, 1941

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