Dr. John, king of voodoo blues, dead at 77

The New Orleans legend passed on from a heart attack.

Dr. John
Image: Frans Schellekens / Redferns

Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., better known as the mercurial musician Dr. John, has passed away from a heart attack. He was 77.

The announcement was made on 6 June on Dr. John’s official Facebook page:

Dr. John embarked on his musical career in the 50s as both a songwriter and guitarist, before playing keyboard for likes of The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and Van Morrison. But the six-time Grammy Award winner will best be remembered for his eclectic fusion of blues, jazz, boogie-woogie and funk as well as his fascination with voodoo.

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Dr. John’s colourful repertoire was influenced by his experiences with voodoo in his native New Orleans. Such was the case with his 1968 debut solo album, Gris-Gris, in which he served up a heady mix of voodoo-tinged psychedelic rock, jazz and blues. The folk magic also influenced Dr. John’s sartorial style, with his outfits often featuring vivid feathers, snakeskin and beads.

Dr. John’s biggest single to date is the 1973 track Right Place, Wrong Time – taken from his sixth studio album In The Right Place – which peaked at number nine on the Billboard chart that year. The track, like the album, was produced by Allen Toussaint and featured contributions from funk four-piece The Meters.

In 2011, Dr. John was officially inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame by John Legend. His last Grammy came in 2012, when his album Locked Down took home the gong for ‘Best Blues Album’.

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