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Mama Roux
by Dr John
FAST-TRACK: Dr John (1941 to 2019) was an American singer/songwriter. Malcolm John Rebennack was born on November 20th 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Of French heritage, he grew up in the Third Ward of the city and found early musical inspiration in the 'minstrel' tunes sung by his grandfather and other relatives, all of whom played piano. However, he took no music lessons himself before reaching his teens, and endured only a short stint in a choir before being expelled for his behaviour. His father was the owner of an appliance store and record shop, and this exposed him to recorded work by many different 'jazz' musicians of the day. When he was about 13, he met the 'blues' musician 'Professor Longhair', and soon began performing with him - thus began his life as a professional musician. At the young age of 16, Rebennack was hired by Johnny Vincent as a producer at 'Ace Records' - while there he gained experience working with many artists, including James Booker and Earl King. He was jailed for two years for involvement in narcotics and prostitution, finally being released in 1965. He immediately moved to Los Angeles, where he became a session musician as part of the famed 'Wrecking Crew' stable of musicians (he notably provided backing for such stars as 'Sonny & Cher', 'Canned Heat' and Frank Zappa). Better known in his solo capacity as 'Dr John', his own music combined 'blues', pop, 'jazz', 'boogie woogie' and 'rock and roll' in a broad fusion. He had been an active session musician from the late 1950s, and continued this activity all the way up until his death. He had first gained notice in the late 1960s following the release of his album "Gris-Gris" and an appearance at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music. Rebennack typically performed lively, theatrical stage presentations inspired by old-time "medicine shows", which featured bright "Mardi Gras" costumes and various New Orleans 'voodoo'-style ceremonies. During his career, he was the winner of a total of six "Grammy" awards, recorded more than 20 albums, and in 1973 produced a US Top 10 single hit called "Right Place, Wrong Time". After moving to New York and overcoming a heroin addiction by 1989, he battled back to release the album "Goin' Back to New Orleans" in 1992, which won a "Grammy" award for 'Best Traditional Blues Album', and featured many classic songs from his home city. Musicians who backed Rebennack up on the LP included the 'Neville Brothers', Al Hirt, Danny Barker, Alfred 'Uganda' Roberts, Pete Fountain, Alvin 'Red' Tyler, Chuck Carbo, Clyde Kerr Junior and Jamil Sharif. In the same year, he also became the first American artist to perform at the Franco Follies Festival. He was inducted into the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" by singer John Legend in March 2011, and in May 2013 received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Tulane University. Dr John died from a heart attack in Louisiana on June 6th 2019, aged 77.
Posted: 7th June 2019
Hundreds of very talented musicians pass away each year, some without much recognition at all. On "Rest In Peace ✚", I aim to give them a fitting 'send-off', with a decent Tribute. I hope you will join me in marking their passing.....
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