By Renetta Burrell-Perry
The legendary and colorful songwriter, producer, collaborator and ingenious musical force known as Dr. John passed away on June 6th, from a heart attack according to a statement released by his family. Born Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr., and raised in the City of New Orleans, Dr. John was renowned for his unique style of Funk Music which he adopted as a student of Professor Longhair, Papa Celestin, Dave Bartholomew, Walter “Papoose Nelson. Coupled with his love and respect for the City’s Voodoo Culture, his signature style and his gritty voice earned him a space in music royalty in the City of New Orleans.
Queen of New Orleans Soul, Irma Thomas said, “Dr. John’s style was Dr. John’s style. He was a little bit of everybody, from Professor Longhair to the young Allen Toussaint, to James Booker, to Huey Smith.” She told WDSU that he wouldn’t want people to be sad of his passing, but rather celebrate his long and storied life.
Dr. John was a six-time Grammy Award Winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee who collaborated with The Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond, Carly Simon, B.B. King and Christina Aguilera, to name a few. Two of his albums made The Rolling Stone’s top 500 Albums List, but it was his Allen Toussaint and The Meters produced “Right Place Wrong Time,” that gave him a Top 20 Hit.
“Mac Rebennack, who told us all to call him ‘Dr. John,’ was truly one-of-a-kind. He was a beautiful soul, a powerful pianist, and one of the cultural icons that helped make New Orleans what it is,” said Mayor Cantrell of his life. “We say goodnight to the Nite Tripper, and goodbye to a unique talent. May he rest in God’s perfect peace.”