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.
Dr. John died on June 6, 2019. The cause of death was a fatal heart attack.
Photo Credit: Bruce Weber