The legendary Dr. John is a six-time Grammy Award-winning musician and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Known throughout the world as the embodiment of New Orleans' musical legacy, Dr. John is a true icon in American culture. His colorful musical career began in the 1950s when he wrote and played guitar on some of the greatest records to come out of the Crescent City, including recordings by Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Joe Tex, Frankie Ford and Allen Toussaint.
Dr. John headed west in the 1960s, where he continued to be in demand as a session musician, playing keyboards on records by Sonny and Cher, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin and The Rolling Stones' "Exile On Main St." During that time he launched his solo career, developing the charismatic persona of Dr. John The Nite Tripper. A legend was born with his breakthrough 1968 album "Gris-Gris," which introduced to the world his unique blend of voodoo mysticism, funk, rhythm & blues, psychedelic rock and Creole roots. Several of his many career highlights include the masterful album "Sun, Moon and Herbs" in 1971 which included cameos from Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger and 1973's "In The Right Place," which contained the chart hits "Right Place Wrong Time" and "Such A Night."
In addition to his six Grammy wins (1989, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2013), he has received six other Grammy nominations over the years. In 2007 he was nominated for "Sippiana Hericane," his Hurricane Katrina benefit disc. After Hurricane Katrina Dr. John immediately stepped up to the plate with generous relief fund-raising concerts and recordings. In 2007 he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and Blues Hall of Fame. In 2008 he released "City That Care Forgot," winning him a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. His album "Locked Down", released in 2012 with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. In 2013 Dr. John was awarded an honorary doctorate from Tulane University alongside His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In 2014, Dr. John released critically acclaimed tribute to Louis Armstrong "Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch," with co-producer and arranger Sarah Morrow, his longtime music director. In 2015, Dr. John was awarded the Louie Award from the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and he will receive the Jazz Foundation of America's Hank Jones Award in October, 2016 at "A Great Night in Harlem" which has pledged $1 Million to help musicians recovering from the 2016 Louisiana flood.Dr. John & The Nite Trippers released "The Bare Necessities," produced by Morrow, for Disney's blockbuster "The Jungle Book" soundtrack in spring, 2016. In fall, 2016 Dr. John will release the double live album and DVD "The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music" with performers including Bruce Springsteen, Widespread Panic, Mavis Staples, Morrow, John Fogerty and many more. After more than half a century of creating music for others and himself, Dr. John continues to write, arrange, produce and interpret music with a passion.
Legendary New Orleans artist Mac Rebennack Jr., aka. Dr. John, comes to glorious fruition on his new Mercernary on Blue Note. An idea from his daughter Tina, who pointed out that "Personality," a 1946 hit for Johnny Mercer, would be a perfect fit for her dad. She suggested doing a whole album of Mercer songs, a fellow Southerner, Savannah-born, a performer, and a workaholic, who either wrote the words, music or both to at least 1,500 songs, lots of them classics. Dr. John could relate.
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Legendary musician Dr. John passed away this week at the age of 77. Born Malcolm Rebennack in New Orleans on November 20, 1941, he personified the melting-pot nature of his native city in the eclectic sounds he made and colorful wardrobe he donned.
Mac was a well-respected and prominent figure in the New Orleans music scene, formulating a cool, funky and jazzy style that became his signature. Starting as a guitarist before an early-career switch to focus on piano, Dr. John collaborated with many of the world's most renowned musicians through the past 50+ years. This edition of Saturday Stream presents several of those memorable collaborations Mac was part of during his remarkable career.
The Spotify Playlist of Dr. John collaborations includes selections from his albums recorded with NOLA legends, the late Allen Toussaint and The Meters, as well as a track from 1971's The Sun, Moon & Herbs, an album that was recorded with Eric Clapton, Bobby Keys, The Memphis Horns, Mick Jagger and others. Mac is also featured on tracks recorded by Canned Heat, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Harry Nillson, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, Taj Mahal, Joe Cocker, Wille Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, John Scofield, Jimmy Smith, Jimmie Vaughn, Johnny Winter and others, including the recently departed Leon Redbone.
Fellow New Orleans icons, such as Mac's idol Professor Longhair, as well as Donald Harrison, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Cyril Neville, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Nicholas Payton and more. Other tracks feature live collabs with Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Dr. John's performance of "Such A Night" from The Band's famed The Last Waltz concert.
Revisit many of Dr. John's collaborations in the Spotify Playlist below:
It seems their story began in Tennessee: Dr. John and Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach ripped through a Superjam set at Bonnaroo 2011, the festival that owes its namesake to Dr. John's 1974 album Desitively Bonnaroo. But it was actually a long time coming, as Dan Auerbach has always been a fan of and influenced by Dr. John. Coming off of the success of Brothers, the construction of his very own Easy Eye studio in Nashville, and the pending success of the Black Keys' follow-up El Camino, the time was perfect for collaboration. In an April interview with NPR's David Greene, he sounds almost giddy, "I'm such a huge fan. I think he is sort of underappreciated. I knew the timeless quality of what he did. I just felt like, if I went down and met him and his head was anywhere near where it used to be, it just might be fruitful."
Dr. John is a living New Orleans legend. With over 30 released albums attached to his name, he is the winner of five Grammy awards and a recent inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Locked Down sure sounds like a Dr. John album, New Orleans to the bone and creepy in all the right ways; but, he's distinctly refreshed. It's not that Dr. John is new to changing his sound, he's been steadily releasing albums since the 70's, all variations on his voodoo-blues signature growl. But this time around he gets a serious boost from a career just hitting its creative stride in Auerbach. Locked Down ranges from classic New Orleans blues, to afro-beat, with reggae flourishes, and some dirty, dirty rock aided by Auerbach's play throughout. You'll hear the Dr.'s electric piano on just about every track, some thick horn lines (see "Revolution"), and painfully soulful backing vocals from The McCrary Sisters and Auerbach to boot.
Part of negotiating Dr. John to make the record was for him to actually stop being Dr. John. Auerbach explains in his NPR interview, "I…wanted him to talk from the Mac Rebennack [Dr. John's real name] perspective - lyrically. I didn't want him to talk from the Dr. John perspective." He obliged, and as a result, the album is arguably the most personal offering from the artist since his 1995 autobiography Under a Hoodoo Moon: The Life of the Night Tripper.
The album is a critical and commercial success, going to number one on the Billboard blues charts. And with the Auerbach bump, the album and the Dr. are getting some well-deserved exposure from some younger crowds. At 71, he is certainly in his element crafting some dark grooves impossible to ignore.
Dr. John is on tour now, coming to New York at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Greenvale on November 17.